Saturday, November 04, 2006

Things that make you go "Huh?"

Newspapers have been endorsing political candidates for as long as I can remember. But I never understood the relevance behind it. As resident WNEP blogger Andy Palumbo notes, who votes for someone based on a newspaper endorsement? Frankly, I don't think any news outlet should endorse anyone running for public office, but that's besides the point.

Imagime my surprise this weekend, when I see the Times Leader rubber-stamped Rep. Don Sherwood's re-election. This is the same newspaper that vigorously defended its coverage of Sherwood's affair with a young woman. Rep. Paul Kanjorski also got the TL thumbs-up, even though the newspaper hammered him over using his political clout to provide federal money to a relative's failed business.

I'm still trying to make sense of this. And if my station ever endorsed a candidate, I know I'd feel pretty uncomfortable on Election Night...

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with the endorsement argument, particularly the newspapers. They have to be counting on readers who don't know who the owners are or where their loyalties and affiliations lie.

I'd venture to say that if the newspaper endorses Candidate X, unless you happen to travel in the same circles as the newspaper wheels behind that endorsement, the rule of thumb is to run in the opposite direction because they talk a good game and "yay for the people" and all that, but let's get serious. Do you think the millionaire newspaper owners have anything in mind besides selling you a paper?

Once upon a time when the populace was for the most part poorly educated if at all, a newspaper's endorsement carried some weight. Now it just means that the candidate they're endorsing is in their pocket or they plan to put him there.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I can't imagine anyone being convinced to vote for anyone because their newspaper says they should. Anyone that gullible should not vote, at least until they can form their own opinion based upon the issues. The same for anyone falling for negative ads from any candidate.
Second, I can't fathom how endorsing a candidate is legal. Even the amount of coverage per candidate is monitored under equal access law. How can it not be wrong for a media outlet to actually say "Vote for this guy!" without repercussions? The law is definitely flawed here.
We have the privilege AND responsibility to vote. If no one running is to your liking, go to the voting booth and vote for no one (a vote of no confidence) or write in your choice. Bottom line - GET OUT AND VOTE. Or keep your opinions to yourself later.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WVIA just did a show about this topic last Thursday. Check it out.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newspaper endorsements are nothing more than the print media giving themselves a shot of self-importance. We all know newspapers are relevant, but the print guys have to convince THEMSELVES of this from time to time. It's about seventy percent that for sure. The other thirty percent? Well, think about it. Media types usually consider themselves smarter than the average reader or viewer. So we may consider these endorsements as newspaper editors trying to tell their readers how to vote, rather than let their readers (customers) think for themselves. It's all about arrogance and showing Joe Six-pack the light, a light he would surely see for himself if he did the required homework and background checks on each candidate.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2:16 poster has voiced good intentions, but, sadly, has missed a few fundamentals!
For the recors, newspapers are not governed by any equal access laws and seccondly, voting in the USA is a right, not a prvilege. This post is not a critical one, but rather one intended to clarify!

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the recors(sic), newspapers are not governed by any equal access laws...

Correct. And this just drives home the sad state of things, that broadcast "journalists" know so little about the basics.

To go back to another thread and time; I saw that I-Team promo twice tonight and I was 100% correct - it starts with four people, then ends with three. Holy Shit, how bad can WBRE get? Don't bother, we all know the answer.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well - why does anyone read opinion piece in the paper?

If no one cares about what editors think about elections, then why do you care what they think about social issues? Or anything else for that matter?

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't you love today's Times Leader political ad for Santorum, signed by some of Publisher/owner Rich Connor's partners; the Flack's and Frank Henry? And this in the same issue as Connor's column adding his personal Santorum endorsement to the paper's? Is there any clearer message of the Times Leader's future politics? And how come these guys couldn't put 2 + 2 together, come up with 4, and realize that Mr. and Mrs. front porch would instinctively vote OPPOSITE of the Valley's millionaires? With this well-intentioned stunt, the moneyed here have merely validated the Dem's contention that the rich get richer by backing the Santorums of Washington. They're supposed to be smart; what WERE they thinking? And Connor just blew his "Mr. Everybody" cover big time.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:16 SAID:

First, I can't imagine anyone being convinced to vote for anyone because their newspaper says they should. Anyone that gullible should not vote, at least until they can form their own opinion based upon the issues.

Not only true here, but I think this comment applies to voting a straight ticket for a specific party. In my mind, those who vote a straight ticket are also showing that they are gullible, and unable to form their own opinion based on the issues. (Naturally, I am an Independent.)

8:20 AM  
Blogger W.F. Call said...

This type of argument could only happen in a place populated by TV people ...
The role of newspapers as opinion leaders is endemic to the notion of a free press. If you're going to argue against endorsements then you also have to argue against editorials and other opinion pieces in the first place, since they're both part and parcel of the same endeavor, namely to present educated views about the issues of the day.
Further, it strikes me as grimly ironic that TV people would lecture their print counterparts about self-importance, what with TV's veil of objectivity growing ever-thinner each day.
Newspaper endorsements are an effective way of engaging readers and promoting public discourse. Long may they live.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Rich Connor edits the paper, but he really ought to READ it too. He could learn about the comedy of errors that make up the Santorum and Sherwood platforms and pratfalls.

If Santorum loses will Sherwood have to marry a dog? (as opposed to just dating one?)

2:08 PM  
Blogger Walter Brasch said...

The editorial page of most newspapers has lost clout, simply because people aren';t reading editorial pages--and the editorial page staff are usually endorsing things like cancer research and better reading programs, no-brainers. The TL, a decidedly anti-worker newspaper (and most assuredly anti-union) prefers Sherwood over Carney, but (just to show its non-partison side) endorses Kanjorski who has negligible competition; therefore, endorsing K's opponent would be editorial suicide. It's a no-brainer here, too -- endorse Sherwood to keep the district Republican (and one vote against the workimg class) . . . endorse Kanjorski to show the paper isn't really as right-wing as it truly is. But, K's district is safely Democratic, so TL thinks it's got balls.
walt brasch/prof. of journalism, BloomU

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with 6:57 pm -- it is a dose of self-importance for the newspapers (they mistakenly THINK they know best and are the most informed), and lingers from a century-old tradition that is no longer relevant (with the crazy number of political junk mail and phone calls people are getting these days, aren't we all tired of it already anyway?).
That said, you can't compare print ownership to television news station ownership -- not similar on any level. AND, while the Sherwood about-face was questionable for those who simply read the newspaper, it certainly made sense for those who are filled in about what's going on behind the scenes -- a change in leadership/ownership that has resulted in drastic ways of thinking and approaching the way the news is delivered.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't see anything wrong with newspapers endorsing candidates on the editorial page.

The key is keeping management opinions separate from the news department and its coverage.

Maybe opinions in newspapers wouldn't seem so strange if radio and television stations were still doing editorials. It's been decades since editorials were on tv here.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*W.F. Call said...
This type of argument could only happen in a place populated by TV people...*

Right, and what part of the equation is giving you a problem? This is A BLOG DEVOTED TO TV NEWS, you do get that, don't you? While I think your sentiments are right on target, I don't understand your contemptuous sniff at what happens here.

Be that as it may, the T-L has shown its very far-right Republican face to the community with these "...hunker down and toe the party line" endorsements. What frosts me is that Connor claims his paper's endorsements are strictly based on the candidates interview with the T-L's editorial board, and that's it, nothing else, no weight given to morality or the lack of it.

Sherwood's gone, kiss him good-bye. And Santorum is likely headed for the tank, too.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you're going to argue against endorsements then you also have to argue against editorials and other opinion pieces in the first place, since they're both part and parcel of the same endeavor, namely to present educated views about the issues of the day."

10:13 AM


I'll gladly argue against both, since their real purpose is neither to inform nor enlighten. Newspaper publishers have an incredibly low opinion of their readers, and they relish the chance to be "kingmakers" by telling the poor unwashed masses how to think, act and vote.

The old Scripps Howard motto ran something like this: "Give light and the people will find their own way." That light comes from publishing balanced, accurate, comprehensive news reports.

Rich Connor saying, "Kneel, you fools, and receive into your wretched lives the light of the Sacred Lamp of Truth which only I possess" isn't quite the same.

Like the wizard behind the curtain, pay no attention to Rich Connor.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rendell, Santorum, Sherwood, Kanjorski. Some margins SLIM, others not so, but these are the winners.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newspapers do the public no favors by endorsing any candidate. A true public service would be printing the opinions of the CANDIDATES on current issues, so the readers can decide for themselves who deserves their vote. As a reader, it strikes me as a put-down. It's saying we aren't smart enough to choose who's best, that we need an "editor" to "guide" us. Sorry, I don't need your guidance. But as a busy person with a hard schedule (at least I'm off for election day!) it would be helpful and appreciated to be able to read the positions of all the candidates in one place instead of having to visit multiple websites for the info. Give readers credit for having a brain and keep your opinions to yourself! And get out and VOTE!

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could not stomach the T-L's editorial page list today of who they endorse. What are supposed to do, clip it out and bring it to the polls with us?

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing could be more satisfying this morning after than to see virtually all of the Times Leader's supposedly Editorial-Board-based endorsements for races that count region wide be rejected categorically by the voters. The paper's leadership, and its owners whose voices clearly DO count on the editorial page, might be wise to learn from this humbling and no doubt frustrating experience that their readers will not be influenced by big names or big bucks.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how live TV can capture a moment and a behavior that millions in advertising just couldn't grasp. As much as I swore Rick Santorum's decade long, unrestrained arrogance earned him the outcome we savored last night, in just ten minutes of concession he showed compassion, character and leadership potential this voter and reporter NEVER saw. Why couldn't he be THAT Senator for the last two forgettable six-year terms?

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rendell, Santorum, Sherwood, Kanjorski. Some margins SLIM, others not so, but these are the winners...

How do you like your crow?

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I like my crow? How do you like having sheep, possibly lemming DNA in your genetic make-up? And how do you like helping the Great Entitled and High Majesty in His Rightly Assumed Position and Ascendancy to the Throne?
Yeah, hey...he's not pals with Bush. That's a platform.

6:32 PM  

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