The Temple News has decided to endorse Sen. Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.
With the election just one week away, our decision is late in comparison with other newspapers. Many newspapers published their endorsements two weeks ago.
The choice to endorse Obama for president was not a unanimous one in our newsroom. There were arguments about which candidate is best qualified, who has better policies and who will bring change to our country.
It is unreasonable to assume that a 20-person staff – or even a four-person Editorial Board – can agree on a topic as sensitive as presidential politics.
For that reason, newspapers should not endorse candidates for public office. If a small staff of 20 cannot agree on a candidate, then how can the staffs of larger regional or national publications be expected to do so?
When readers pick up the newspaper and see an endorsement for a candidate, that support reflects the views of the paper as a whole. Readers may not be aware of or care about the thought process, discussion and disagreement that go into the endorsement. In a heavily Democratic city like Philadelphia, it is probable that readers believe a newspaper’s support for Obama is the result of a unanimous staff-wide decision.
This is not the case at The Temple News. More importantly, it would be best in the name of public responsibility if newspapers did not endorse candidates at all.
It is the responsibility of journalists to report the news in an unbiased fashion – to represent all sides and tell every story from as many perspectives as possible.
It is not our responsibility to publicly support candidates for office.
Presidential elections are important on a societal and individual level. People who do not have strong opinions about this election, or who haven’t decided which candidate to vote for, can be easily swayed by empty promises, advertisements, discussions and, yes, newspaper endorsements.
This dissenting opinion is not an endorsement for Sen. John McCain. Rather, it is a way to express objectivity and neutrality.
It is irresponsible for newspapers whose staff members have different political views to present a united front to their readers by endorsing a presidential candidate.
By endorsing candidates for public office, newspapers are crossing a line they shouldn’t be straddling in the first place.