In recent years, many newspapers have backed away from supporting political candidates — newspapers like our neighbor The Arizona Republic.
Here is what Republic wrote when it announced the move in February 2020: “They (readers) tell us that our mentions are alienating them and clouding the way they read our news. They don’t see the sharp line we draw between our news and opinion content. »
Given today’s polarized environment, why would any newspaper – including the Journal – continue to sponsor candidates? Why run the risk of alienating a significant portion of our audience? Are endorsements still worth the great effort that goes into them?
Every election season, we ask these same questions. After all, our lives would certainly be easier without this process. This primary season alone, our editorial board members interviewed 45 candidates.
But we still believe it’s worth it, especially when it comes to local races. And apparently many of you do too. We always get calls asking when our mentions will appear; and most applicants still respond to our invitation to be interviewed – a decision we respect and appreciate.
Here’s what Editorial Board Editor D’Val Westphal wrote in a column a few years ago.
“…while political endorsements are among the most time-consuming things we do as a board, they are among the most important things we do for our readers. An informed electorate is the cornerstone of democracy, and we take our role as the Fourth Estate very seriously.
She pointed out that few people have the time to comb through media coverage; read the questionnaires, chronicles and letters submitted by the candidates; collating and comparing candidates’ campaign materials; then interview candidates in contested local, state and congressional races.
From there, the editorial board members evaluate each race, discuss all the information, and come up with a preferred candidate.
These are often not easy decisions, and our recommendations are not intended to tell readers how to vote. They are intended to inform readers about candidate positions with an explanation of why we believe a particular candidate outperforms the competition.
Obviously, many of our readers have different positions, and our recommendations may actually help them decide that our choice is not the person they want to support.
As for the concern that readers cannot distinguish between our endorsements and our reporting: almost daily, the Journal’s opinion pages run editorials that contain just that – opinions – while our reporters produce balanced, accurate and in-depth articles independent of the opinion pieces of the editorial board.
The same goes for our endorsements; reporters often don’t know who the editorial board is approving until the endorsements are published.
But while we consider the endorsements to be important, they are only one part of the vast amount of information that Journal staff members provide readers with ahead of the election.
During this primary campaign, Journal reporters will provide comprehensive coverage of all local, state and congressional races. And we have produced a special online election guide (abqjournal.com/election-guide) which also includes Q&As for candidates facing contested races in many legislative contests as well as all Bernalillo County, state, and congressional races. The Journal also joins KOAT-TV and KKOB News Radio in leading a May 20 debate on the Republican candidates for the gubernatorial race, and we will release the Journal’s poll results in that race on May 22.
The endorsements, debate, media coverage and online page are a public service that we are proud to offer, and we hope they provide information that you will find helpful in your all-important vote – whether you are agreement with our endorsements or not.
Until next month,