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Newspaper political endorsements more harmful than not

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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At the climax of election season, many voters turn to the news for an objective report of candidates’ policies and standings. But not all newspapers choose to remain unbiased, and some even choose to  endorse specific political candidates. The Hartford Courant has a long standing tradition of endorsing candidates. They claim to do so because they have spent much time following and interviewing nearly all of the candidates. After all of their efforts to get to know the candidates inside and out, alongside their extensive reporting, they claim, who else would be better to make a comprehensive judgment about which candidate would be best for the job?

I disagree. Although newspapers may be informed on various candidates, they should not try to influence voters’ decisions by endorsing candidates.  Voters should, instead, be able to gather impartial information reported by newspapers and form their own opinions. I believe that newspapers should stop endorsing candidates because they may unfairly influence the election results and lose credibility.

In recent times, the practice of endorsing candidates has fallen out of favor––and for good reason.”

According to Mental Floss, currently over 70 percent of newspapers do not endorse presidential candidates, compared to 13.4 percent in 1940. According to the Huffington Post, only 24 percent of Americans believe that newspapers should endorse candidates.

Newspaper endorsements wrongly manipulate readers’ votes. According to reporters Susan Raff and Olivia Lank, when The Courant endorsed Independent Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel, they took away votes from other candidates who had a better chance of winning. Ultimately, The Courant’s endorsement made votes for Griebel throwaway votes.

According to The Hill, Griebel’s opponents, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski ran very close races and differed in estimated poll percentages by only a few points. Especially in neck-and-neck races like the Connecticut gubernatorial election, every vote counts. If Griebel had not been endorsed, those 7 percentage points of votes he amassed could have gone to a candidate who actually had a chance of being elected and effecting change. People who voted for Griebel could have made the difference whether Lamont or Stefanowski got elected. This is just one of many instances where newspaper endorsements negatively affected election outcomes.

Additionally, political endorsements are risky for newspapers. According to Salon, last year, when Donald Trump won despite an overwhelming number of newspapers endorsing Hillary Clinton, the credibility of newspapers took a hit. According to editorial page editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel David Haynes, many endorsements come off as the newspaper telling readers to trust them and vote a certain way. When newspapers end up on the losing side of the election, that trust is lost.

In the end, basing one’s vote off of a single source is never wise, even if that source is a newspaper. Regardless of a newspaper’s endorsed candidate, it is the voter’s responsibility to seek out multiple sources with different opinions in order to make the best, most informed decision at the polls.

 

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