This past week, various newspapers around the country cast their vote for a presidential candidate. Rather then sending in a private ballot, the print media traditionally chooses a candidate to endorse in their editorial section– a very public display of which candidate they believe should be president. So far Romney trails Obama in endorsements; 10-14. Of course at this stage in the game, the most interesting newspapers to follow are the toss-up state papers.
|For Obama||For Romney|
|Tampa Bay Times||Orlando Sentinel|
|Denver Post||New York Observer|
|Salt Lake Tribune||Tennessean|
|Philadelphia Inquirer||Dallas Morning|
|Los Angeles Times||Las Vegas Review-Journal|
|The Columbus Dispatch|
The remaining toss-ups are Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. Not all have corresponding papers that have declared Romney or Obama their champion yet. But so far we can see Florida is split, Colorado is for Obama, Nevada and Ohio are for Romney. Is that really what newspaper endorsements mean? When a newspaper picks a candidate to vote for, does that reflect the consensus of the state? Apparently not considering Utah is predicted to vote for Romney when the Salt Lake Tribune has voted for Obama. And considering the New York Observer has voted for Romney when New York is predicted to vote for Obama. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tennessean, and Dallas Morning hold true to their predicted outcomes, but that does not mean they chose their candidate because they are acting as the voice of the people.
The print media has endorsed presidential candidates since the 18th and 19th centuries when newspapers were affiliated with political parties. Now the print media is affiliated with corporations who have media monopolies and endorse candidates as a corporation. All print media companies under the corporate umbrella of Gannett, Newhouse, and McClatchy endorse the corporation’s chosen candidate. I would argue this undermines the role of news media to scrutinize the actions of government. The print media no longer acts as a check on government when corporations use it to influence the public’s vote rather than inform the public on their own vote.
There has been no reason to stop newsprint endorsements considering they give presidential candidates media coverage and give corporations a favorable position with government officials. Luckily, the public is fairly skeptical of media as it is, so a newspaper’s endorsement is not likely to change a high number of votes. It still seems strange to me that a media source that claims to be objective, has publicly published a preferred presidential candidate for every election since 1936. I look forward to following the rest of the votes cast by our “free press.”