Editorial: Why you generally do not see endorsements in our paper

By on March 24, 2011

With the April 5 election approaching, we have fielded numerous questions on who we plan to endorse, and in general, if we plan to endorse anyone.

The answer is, we generally do not endorse any candidate in elections, nor do we generally endorse a position on referendums. The reason is, we feel it is the newspaper’s place to present information to allow the voter to make what they feel is their best choice, not to try and influence that voter with our opinion.

We do allow ourselves the opportunity to make an exception to this policy, when we deem a particular referendum vital to the community’s interest. For example, we endorsed the passage of a past Kaneland School District referendum that, if it had failed, would have led to the dismantling of the district’s sports and extra-curricular programs.

Barring those types of situations, which are very rare, you will not see an endorsement for a candidate or a position on a particular referendum taken by our staff in our pages.

At a time when the public legitimately questions the lack of general objectivity within the news media, it seems difficult to understand why any outlet would let down the wall between fact and opinion when writing about elections.

Yes, there is a place for opinion writing in newspaper; editorials and op/ed pieces, plus readers’ letters to the editorials, each provide the opportunity to share their opinions.

However, it is one thing for an opinion writer to take a stance on an issue or situation, and it is another for that same writer to, in effect, tell readers why they should vote a particular way in a particular election.

When a media outlet advocates for a particular candidate prior to an election, the outlet’s readers and/or viewers can legitimately question that outlet’s ability to remain objective in its coverage prior to the election, as well as its coverage afterward.

Since it is not a newspaper’s place to advocate for anything, nor is it to influence the news, and since there would be legitimate reasons to question that paper’s ability to objectively report the news after advocating for a candidate or position, more problems are created than resolved if an endorsement is made.