by John C Abell
There’s been quite a bit of chatter this election cycle about whether reporters should eschew voting to enhance their objectivity bone fides.
Now Time Magazine Managing Editor Rick Stengle is asking a bigger question: should newspapers endorse candidates?
Stengel’s argument emphasizes the kids today -- that demographic whose news appetites and consumption habits will define how news organizations publish and, by extension, who lives and who dies.
The under-30 crowd doesn’t get why newspapers endorse, he says, and is “dubious” about whether there is a church/state relationship between reporters and the editorial page.
I confess that I've never quite understood why newspapers endorse presidential candidates. Sure, I know the history and the tradition, the fact that newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries were often affiliated with political parties, but why do they do it now? Why do it at a time when the credibility and viability of the press are at all-time lows? More important, why do it at a time when readers, especially young readers, question the objectivity of newspapers in particular and the media in general?
Young news consumers are suspicious about traditional authority. They prize objectivity, straightforwardness and transparency. I doubt there's a reader under 30 who gets why newspapers endorse presidential candidates — and most of the ones I talk to ask the following: How can a newspaper be objective on the front page when it endorses a candidate on the editorial page? They're dubious about whether the reporter who covers Hillary Clinton can be objective if his newspaper has endorsed Barack Obama — and vice versa. And they're right.
Full letter to readers here.