26 January 2012

The end of a writing tradition

On Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper announced that it would no longer be endorsing candidates for president.

It will continue, it says to cover campaigns, and post candidate questions and the like. But as for endorsements, they say, "We have come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voter to be better informed than ever before."

I suppose that's true. Maybe an endorsement isn't going to really change anyone's mind in this deeply, divided, partisan time. But, as writing goes, the candidate endorsement is a staple, the most sought-after piece and anchoring opinion piece in a newspaper.

It is a statement by a organization that "This is what who we believe in, the course we think is right and best." Are we so worried about offending people that opinion pages aren't going to say "This is who we want?"

During my college newspaper days, we endorsed during the 2000 presidential campaign-turned-debacle. We went against the grain for the campus, endorsing the other guy because we really believed he was the better choice.

It was our stand, against a tide of sentiment on campus that leaned the other way. Did it matter to the candidate that a small, weekly, college paper endorsed him. No, not really. Did we change any voters minds? I don't know. I hope somebody read it and gave it some thought. Twelve years later, I'm still really glad I wrote it, that it was our mark of belief.

This makes me sad, as a writer, to see this bastion of journalism starting to disappear.

It's unfortunate that the editors have so little faith in their readers to find it useful and so little faith in themselves to stand for something.

1 comment:

Sebastiene said...

Or, the state of politics has deteriorated to the point where the paper doesn't believe strongly enough in either one party or the other.

Or, the paper doesn't feel like it gets enough of a push in sales from one party's members to risk alienating the other party's members.

Yes, it is sad. But maybe it was inevitable?