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Should news media companies endorse political candidates?

Is the tradition of news outlets endorsing candidates useful to voters, or is it a signal of what type of coverage to expect from each outlet? Should this tradition continue?

presidential candidates

presidential candidates

News outlets: arbiters of opinion, or investigators of truth?

In truth, endorsements matter primarily to the base of the party that is being endorsed, as it is obviously an honor to be endorsed by anyone, especially if the reasons for the endorsements are fair and factual. As far as swaying a vote, I am positive that endorsements have an affirming affect on the reader of the paper or viewer of the news if the outlet has any credibility, but I would posit that the moment that the media outlet endorses any candidate, it has lost credibility altogether.

In the grand scheme of things, news should be unbiased – journalism is simply designed to be a check and balance to power, to be informative, and at times educational, and any news outlet that adheres to these standards will always be well regarded. News outlets were never designed to segment themselves to 50 percent of a polarized electorate; it just doesn’t make sense to the bottom line.

In truth, many say that standing on principal matters, but in the bastion of Presidential politics, I personally don’t want to know where a paper stands. I want to know that I am getting fair carefully vetted facts, that the right questions are being asked, and that the checks and balances are in tact.

Do media endorsements matter?

So do newspaper or television news outlet endorsements matter? Yes. They tell the electorate that koolaid of their candidate of choice is available on a daily basis. It warns the electorate of the possibility of stories impacting their chosen candidates being buried on page six or nixed all together. It means to the reader that red meat is all they’ll get in order to make a healthy decision with their vote.

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Newspapers alongside cable news should take a very hard look at this long-lived tradition and open an entirely new market to the balance of the electorate by not practicing this stale tradition. Giving 100 percent of the truth about 100 percent of all candidates, avoiding talking points of candidates, and delving deeper into each better serves the public in mass.

As an observer of media, and as part of the the institution, I for one, do not subscribe to the elitism displayed by media giants like the New York Times editorial board who does great harm and a horrible disservice to an electorate bombarded by ads in swing states, or worse, those not in swing states that are hungry for facts.

How long has it been since this President has given a real press conference? Check the papers, and check cable media, and you’ll be hard pressed to find the answer, much less demand for one, with only a few exceptions.

Ending the stale tradition of endorsements

I’m not interested in social journalism – that should be left to the people using social platforms to share information. Journalists should avoid the human need for popularity and go for the unbiased story rather than lower themselves to simple entertainment, and rather allow the reverse – allow the people to endorse news outlets. That’s how Big Media survives.

This electorate deserves more than what it’s getting and their media sales show it.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. lessherman

    November 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    “news outlets endorsing candidates” is elitist and worthless…. give me the facts of the issues (is THAT even possible from any news media?)

  2. kenbrand

    November 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Sadly, there’s no money or power or sex in funding, producing or broadcasting unbiased news.

  3. RobertaMurphy

    November 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    There has never been a greater need for unbiased and full reporting from our news media–and a clear line needs to be drawn between news and editorial writing.  Main stream media’s greatest loss is neither revenue nor eyeballs–it is trust.  The Fourth Estate, for the most part, has failed us miserably.

  4. ToddWaller

    November 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Benn Rosales Your point about the validity of media endorsements is ridiculously poignant. Allowing the media consumer to “see” an outlet’s political bend is priceless, when it comes to triangulating from the information the media outlet shares.With regards to an outlet eschewing the endorsement process and giving  “100 percent of the truth about 100 percent of all candidates,” that will take some hard work. Again, the media consumer has been conditioned to question and look for the bias in any “news reporting” that is done. Heck, we “jump at shadows” in movies and TV shows that have current event themes. Somehow, as consumers, we expect to have a message rammed into our entertainment and have become conditioned to ignore or respond to these biases in our entertainment.

  5. annarborrealtor

    November 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Well not to bring Realtor Pac’s into it but…I got two shinny, non environmentally friendly pieces in the mail from NAR and MAR. Through them in the trash, because I would NEVER vote for who they endorsed. I have not given to RPAC since that little committee was formed either. I think when I newspaper endorses it is like a feather in the cap to the candidate, but not sure it makes much difference. Bragging rights for a few days.

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  17. jamesleetn

    November 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Your last sentence pretty well sums it up: “This electorate deserves more than what it’s getting and their media sales show it.”

  18. RuthmarieGarciaHicks

    November 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Ok – I’m OLD!!! I can remember back to the dark ages of the late 70s and early 80s.  I was pretty young but my parents were news addicts and we always listened to news programs editorials and editorial responses together in the evening.  
     
    What was really interesting is that there was the “Equal Time Rule” and the “Fairness Doctrine”. There was no cable news and talk radio.  The likes of Cronkite differentiated between reporting the news and editorializing.  And they actually REPORTED the news and DUG for the information.  A marvelous example of this lost art can be seen in “All The President’s Men” about Woodward and Bernstein’s coverage of Watergate.  Investigative reporting – rightly – brought down a US President.  
     
    Imagine that happening today?  They might do it over rumor or innuendo and a nice sex scandal is always good – but real reporting is a thing of the past. 
     
    Some of the news is so biased – notably FOX and MSNBC – that no one can call what they do un-slanted, yet the lines are blurred particularly with respect to cable news stations.  I can watch these stations and successfully maneuver between fact from fallacy, but then I was raised to be super-aware.  Most people can’t.  I see otherwise very intelligent people foaming at the mouth over total nonsense that they heard on some of these “news stations”.  The general public can not seem to sift between fact and opinion. This is a problem because it can easily lead to an oligarchy where he who has the biggest bull horn can contort slanted opinion into fact through sheer repetition. Most people, busy with putting food on the table wil swallow opinion as fact and act and vote accordingly.  
     
    So back to your original question – I think that making the statement of who they are for or against might help the public understand that there IS a bias and WHERE the bias lies.  Its better than nothing since they are already in the bag for one candidate over another.

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