Anyone who’s followed the IJ for a few years — maybe not our full 101 years, mind you — knows we will weigh in on various issues, usually local or state ones, but when Election Day rolls around we tend to steer clear of endorsing candidates.
A few candidates through the years have sought our endorsement. As many, perhaps even more, have politely asked we not endorse them for fear doing so would derail their campaign and kill their chances of winning.
I have worked in newspapers that did not endorse and even worked at a paper where we did not endorse under one publisher but did under another. A no-endorsement policy makes the lives of editorial writers easier, I’ll say that, but I understand the reasoning behind both approaches.
However, in these particularly contentious times, I’m relieved that we merely urge voters to vote for the candidate they think is best for the particular position. Endorsing would be a no-win situation for us. Really, for just about any newspaper these days.
It perplexes me that quite a few readers apparently think a newspaper shouldn’t have an opinion at all. We’ve had our share of comments — mind you, only on social media, as though it’s the only legitimate platform for voicing one’s opinions — from readers who say we should just report the news, not share an opinion about it. Newspapers are steeped in a tradition of reporting and opining on the news. That some people did not or do not know that is a foreign concept to me, having been doing this gig since 1980. Newspapers have expressed opinions, separate from their news stories, long before these pundits on radio and TV began running their mouths in an effort to run up ratings and viewership among those who share common political views.
It is funny, or at least ironic, that the same people who chastise papers for trying to present a thoughtful view on an issue, especially local issues, apparently don’t mind being inundated with sound bite commercials and equally obnoxious postcards that trot out vitriolic and false messages.
We have very possibly gotten to a point where there is no compromise or willingness to hear another’s point of view, opting instead to find validation by surrounding themselves only with like-minded people. They hunker down — perhaps bunker down is a more apt term — in the belief that their herd mentality is not only correct, but also will thrive, so long as they fire volleys at those with whom they disagree rather than sit at a table and seek understanding, and — gasp! — perhaps compromise.