Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Folks were still turning in their last-minute ballots Tuesday, Nov. 2, as the Itemizer-Observer went to press. We awoke today knowing, for the most part, the outcome of local, regional, state and national contests.
As we spend the next few days debating what the results mean, one question the Itemizer-Observer heard from Polk County candidates and residents alike was why our newspaper does not do endorsement editorials.
The Itemizer-Observer has chosen for many years not to write endorsement editorials, or offer voter recommendations, for a number of reasons -- the most important reason being it's not our opinion that matters. The only opinion that matters when casting a vote is yours.
Many of us don't like being told by others what to do when it comes to anything, let alone something as personal as voting. While newspapers like the Itemizer-Observer need to take on a leadership role within the communities they serve, several national studies in recent years have shown that endorsements made by newspapers have little actual impact on election outcomes.
Community newspapers like ours are also in the inevitable position of knowing many of the candidates and those close to ballot measures during the election season. These people are, after all, our friends and neighbors, those we do business with, go to church with, play summer league softball with, and who we see in other social situations. There can be assumptions made -- wrongly -- that the newspaper is simply endorsing a good friend, a regular advertiser or the relative of an employee. Some candidates believe they can't get "a fair shake" because someone in the newspaper's management prefers to endorse a longtime friend for office. By not making endorsements, we avoid any possible criticism of being biased in our decision-making process.
Instead of making endorsements, we prefer to provide as much information on local candidates and issues leading up to the election as time, space and staffing allows. We also prefer to provide a great deal of space via our Letters to the Editor section for community dialogue and debate on the election.
So, when it comes down to deciding who should represent you at city hall, the state capitol or in Washington, D.C., isn't the person you want making that decision you?
When all is said and done, our opinion isn't the one that counts. It's yours.