Preferences and Endorsements
I like my coffee black and sweetened, preferably ice cold and with an extra shot of espresso. I do jeans and a blazer for most any non-black tie event. This is all to say, I have preferences.
Preferences are a part of what makes us human. Whether it be cocktail party conversations about a movie loved or hated, holiday season arguments associated with social or world issues, how you butter your toast, or how much is too much as you reach for an extra beer, those are discussions where preferences are relevant. We would be pretty boring if we had no preferences.
However, in the media coverage of elections and candidates and the issues, there was something rather striking to me last Friday morning: a front-page endorsement of a political candidate by a newspaper. It’s been done before, and it certainly will again, but this seemed truly bizarre to me for the first time.
Yes, we as individuals have our preferences. But can a media have a preference? Can it prefer one candidate to another? Can it endorse a candidate? Or more accurately, should a media endorse a candidate?
The age-old standard of journalism is to report from an objective perspective on stories and issues in the community a media serves. A media outlet frames the story, it frames the issues. There are inevitably biases, much like how the color blue on a paint palette could be dark, or light, or navy, and that is understandable.
But for the most part, one would hope that the media would provide an objective view. That objectivity can be questioned when a media stands there with its index finger and uses its editorial standing in the most direct and belligerent of fashions to point to a political candidate and say, she is our woman or he is our man. Immediately, anything that media outlet has written in the lead-up to that moment, and anything thereafter, regarding the endorsed candidate, the opposing candidates, and the issues are all now and forever tainted.
I am not naive enough to believe that this practice isn’t part of the history of newspapers in the United States, but I am truly starting to believe that we must begin to ask for something better. This requires raising the standards well above what we know, and have known them to be. It requires pausing for a moment to take a sober look at the world around us.
I am truly proud to be a part of a media that does not endorse political candidates. There is something really refreshing about it, and it’s what makes me love where I work and what I do. And most certainly why I love picking up this paper to read on a daily basis.
But that is just my preference. What’s yours?