Stengel: Why Do Newspapers Endorse Candidates?

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The debate on whether or not newspapers should endorse candidates has come up again in the wake of the controversial New York Times story on Senator John McCain, whom the paper had endorsed in the Republican primary. Time’s Managing Editor Rick Stengel weighs in solidly against the process in this week’s issue. In an article titled Should Newspapers Be Taking Sides, he writes:

”In the next few weeks, newspapers in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania will endorse candidates for President. In fact, most of them will endorse both a Democrat and a Republican. In 2004, presidential candidates were endorsed by 418 newspapers across the country — 29% of all the papers in the U.S.

”I confess that I’ve never quite understood why newspapers endorse presidential candidates. Sure, I know the history and the tradition, the fact that newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries were often affiliated with political parties, but why do they do it now? Why do it at a time when the credibility and viability of the press are at all-time lows? More important, why do it at a time when readers, especially young readers, question the objectivity of newspapers in particular and the media in general?”

Good question.

(image via timeinc)