What's the Role of Newspaper Endorsements in Modern Era?

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What's the Role of Newspaper Endorsements in Modern Era?

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KUNR

As newspapers struggle to remain relevant in the digital era, that leads us to wonder: What's the role and influence of newspaper endorsements of political candidates today? KUNR's Kate McGee finds out.

The Reno Gazette-Journal recently printed a full page of reader reactions to its endorsement of Gov. Mitt Romney for president. Many of the responses were angry. As newspapers struggle to remain relevant in the digital era, that leads us to wonder: What's the role and influence of newspaper endorsements today? KUNR's Kate McGee has more.

Historically, newspapers make endorsements as a tradition and a public service. But the RGJ's Executive Editor Beryl Love says nowadays, in the Age of Information, endorsements help readers sift through rhetoric and spin.

"We try to serve as curators and try to organizae and try to proiritize just to help people deal with the volume of information that's out there," Love said.

The RGJ endorses candidates both on the national and the local level. And University of Nevada, Reno Media Ethics professor Caesar Andrews says endorsing local candidates is more important to a community.

"Most people with busy lives are just not going to be in a position to know, for example, basic details of who the judicial canidates are," Andrews said. "Or the particulars of the stances taken by the pople running for the shcool board."

But as reader's confidence in media drops and newspaper readership declines, some papers have chosen to stop endorsing candidates all together. It's a decision Beryl Love says the RGJ would consider in the future -- but only on the national level.

"In the 40s and 50s, let's say, that was an important part of the commication strategy: sitting down with the newspaper editorial board. They don't need to do that now," Love said. "But on the local races I don't forsee a time in the immediate future where we would say, 'We're not going to invest the time to do these endorsements.'"