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As Election Day nears, newspapers traditionally endorse political candidates. Les Anderson, a print journalism professor at Wichita State University and former newspaper editor, explains the importance of endorsements and why some newspapers are discontinuing the practice.
Announcer: As Election Day nears, newspapers traditionally endorse political candidates. Les Anderson, a print journalism professor at Wichita State University and former newspaper editor, weighs in on whether newspaper endorsements matter.
Anderson: "I think endorsements do matter, particularly at the local or community level when you're talking school board or city council or county commission, and even state legislative races, I think people look to newspapers as a source of information for those races."
Announcer: Anderson says some newspapers today are afraid to go out on a limb and endorse political candidates, in part because of pressure from advertisers and in part because of increasing workloads on smaller newspaper staffs. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.
Sound bite #1
Anderson explains why newspapers traditionally endorse political candidates. The sound bite is 17 seconds and the outcue is "were the source."
Anderson: "I think traditionally newspapers have, going back years and years, were looked to as the source for all information. It's before the advent of TV, before anything we have that's an electronic media form now, and newspapers were the source."
Sound bite #2
Anderson says there's something more important for newspapers to do than make candidate endorsements. The sound bite is 14 seconds and the outcue is "throughout the year."
Anderson: "I believe strongly in endorsements, but I also believe even more strongly in newspapers providing adequate information leading up to endorsements, and that includes consistent coverage on the issues, on the candidates throughout the year."
Sound bite #3
Anderson explains why some newspapers are discontinuing the practice of political endorsements. The sound bite is 25 seconds and the outcue is "that they get to."
Anderson: "I think today a lot of newspapers are afraid to go out on a limb one way or the other. It's easy to endorse somebody in an area where you agree with the majority of the people. What's tough is when you don't agree. And I think there's pressure from advertisers today, and with newspapers cutting staffs, I think it puts more and more work on people. It's spread out, and endorsements may be the last thing that they get to."
Sound bite #4
Anderson says local newspaper endorsements won't make a big difference in all races. The sound bite is 33 seconds and the outcue is "what that party is."
Anderson: "I don't think endorsements matter when it's a given necessarily. It's not that newspapers shouldn't endorse then, but if you're in a heavy Republican or Democrat area, an endorsement may just be an afterthought. It's sort of like in Kansas, if you know endorsing a Republican is a gimme because of the Republican base here. But very few people are going to go outside of the base and endorse the opposite party, no matter what that party is."
Sound bite #5
Anderson says it's crucial for newspaper staffs to spend time getting to know the candidates. The sound bite is 22 seconds and the outcue is "party or beliefs."
Anderson: "I think what's crucial to a newspaper doing endorsements is that newspaper staff spend time with these candidates, to interview them in person, to do background checks, to check on what they are espousing. It's important for them to have that background before they endorse, so it's not just based strictly on party or beliefs."