* Today’s announcement by the Sun-Times editorial board came as a complete surprise to a whole lot of people…
Seventy-one years ago, Marshall Field III founded this newspaper to create a bully pulpit, on the editorial page, for America’s entry into the war in Europe and for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s domestic agenda, the New Deal.
Somebody in the Midwest, Field believed, had to stand up and counter the isolationist and anti-Roosevelt fulminations of Col. Robert McCormick and his Chicago Tribune. […]
Those days are gone. Most good newspapers today attempt to appeal to the widest possible readership, including people of every political persuasion, by serving up the best and most unbiased news coverage possible. They want to inform you, not spin you.
With this in mind, the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board will approach election coverage in a new way. We will provide clear and accurate information about who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues most important to our city, our state and our country. We will post candidate questionnaires online. We will interview candidates in person and post the videos online. We will present side-by-side comparisons of the candidates’ views on the key issues. We will post assessments made by respected civic and professional groups, such as the Chicago Bar Association’s guide to judicial candidates.
What we will not do is endorse candidates. We have come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voter to be better informed than ever before.
Research on the matter suggests that editorial endorsements don’t change many votes, especially in higher-profile races. Another school of thought, however — often expressed by readers — is that candidate endorsements, more so than all other views on an editorial page, promote the perception of a hidden bias by a newspaper, from Page One to the sports pages.
In keeping with this effort to go the extra mile to reassure you of our commitment to nonpartisanship, we also have decided to extend to our senior management the journalist code of ethics ban on making contributions to political campaigns.
* As an outside (very low-paid) CS-T columnist, I’m not a member of the editorial board, so I wasn’t consulted. If I had been, I’m not quite sure what I would’ve said. I guess I can see both sides here. You endorse somebody (Rod Blagojevich, for instance) and then you carry the weight of that decision for years to come. On the other hand, might this not strengthen the Tribune’s influence over elections? Then again, newspaper endorsements haven’t meant much for several years now.
I don’t think any other daily newspaper in Illinois has ever made a decision like this. I doubt many will give up the perceived power and influence of their endorsements, but they’re fading anyway.
What do you think of this development?