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Atlanta Journal-Constitution No Longer Will Make Endorsements, Public Loses

October 20, 2009

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is but the latest newspaper that has decided not to endorse political candidates for elective office.  Some will see this a good thing, after all, I can hear the words tumble out of many mouths, why should ‘they’ be telling readers how to vote.  In fact, newspapers that endorse do not ‘tell’ citizens how to cast a ballot, only provide informed rationale as to why they might consider voting for a particular candidate.

It has long amused me how some newspaper readers think that the front page news might be swayed or styled in a fashion to reflect the ideas expressed on the editorial pages.  The hard wall that exists between the two distinct sections of any solid paper should alleviate any concerns those readers might have.  Using the front page stories as building blocks to a logical conclusion about an election seems the proper role for a newspaper’s editorial page.  After all, setting an agenda either local or national has been one of the foundations of  newspapers from the very first one that was ever printed.

When it comes to some local races where the news coverage may have been slim, or the differences in candidates only a shade of gray apart from each other, a newspaper endorsement can underscore and highlight aspects of the race that might not be obvious to all voters.  The fact a paper has such a reach therefore can serve the public by contrasting and highlighting concerns that otherwise might not have registered with the rank-and-file citizen before Election Day.  Obviously, that is a good thing.

I have always found a newspaper endorsement important, whether I agreed with it or not, as the ones writing the editorial are the very people who are closest to the story, and understand the issues and background of the candidates and elections the best.  Granted I have trust in newspapers that serve the public, so my faith may be (and probably is) far different from others with jaded views.  But I am quite certain that the readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have lost more than they have gained by the loss of these endorsements.

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