Dear news organizations, please don’t endorse a candidate

On Jan. 30, 2016, the editorial board of the The New York Times released the name of the candidate they will support for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 elections: Hillary Clinton.

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Hillary Clinton is the candidate the New York Times has chosen to endorse for the 2016 elections (Creative Commons license)

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Boston Herald’s editorial board announced the candidate that they will support for the Republican nomination. The person they were endorsing? Marco Rubio.  

Every four years, the editorial board of major news organizations around the United States endorse a candidate for the race to the White House. They do this by releasing an article with the name of the candidate and the reasons that they chose that candidate.

This has been a tradition in the news industry for years – a tradition that I believe goes against everything the industry stands for.

The purpose of a news organization is to inform the public in an unbiased manner.So how could this possibly be “unbiased” if the editorial board writes a thousand words explaining everything that this candidate is doing correctly and why they are endorsing this candidate?

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Marco Rubio was the candidate that the Boston Herald has chosen to endorse for the 2016 elections, but who has since dropped out. (Creative Commons license)

In the Boston Herald’s endorsement article, their editorial board wrote the following: “A Cuban-American who has developed strong relationships within and outside of his own party, Rubio could be a demographic game-changer for the GOP.”

We make our judgments on certain subjects through the information we gather about the subject. Many people make what they think are educated decisions based on what they read in the newspaper.

The New York Time’s first candidate endorsement was in 1860, when they endorsed Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln, who went on to defeat  Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and Constitutional Union Party member John Bell.

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The New York Times was one of the first news organizations to ever endorse a candidate in 1860.

Since then, endorsing a candidate during the primaries has become more and more common among news organizations, such as The Economist and the Boston Herald.

So if most of what we read about a candidate focuses on his or her strengths instead of reporting the truth (even if it includes his or her weaknesses), then how are we supposed to make “educated” decisions about who we want to support?

Endorsements are featured in the editorial section and are clearly not labeled as “news.” However, the difference between news organizations expressing their opinions on certain topic and news organizations endorsing a candidate is that this is an “event” that may be anticipated by many members of the general public every four years, whereas as op-eds are not.

However, there is another side to this argument. If you ask some readers, they will tell you that they believe that this has no real impact on the general public, because these news organizations do not have as much of an impact on opinions as they think they do.

Senior Cooper Devereux is one of these people. Asked about his stance on news organizations endorsing a candidate during the primaries, he said, “I don’t think it should matter in any real sense. News organizations are all controlled by the same people that contribute to these people’s campaigns. It works because many Americans base their political stance off what they see on T.V., but if you really give it any thought it’s just the same people that are propping up these candidates during the campaign doing it again through their media.”

Though Cooper’s point is valid, the harsh reality is that news organizations do, in fact, matter – and the general public tends to be very susceptible to anything and everything they read, even if it is controlled by the same people who contribute large amounts of money to these people’s campaigns.

So for the sake of public opinion, news organizations: Please do not endorse a candidate so the public will not be swayed by the opinions of the supposed “unbiased news organizations.”

Author: Stephanie Palanca

Stephanie Palanca is a senior and a second year reporter for The Eye. She has lived in Singapore since fourth grade, though she is originally from Manila, Philippines. When she is not doing anything related to school, she likes to try eggs benedicts from different brunch places around Singapore, photograph the world around her, binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, and play tennis. She can be contacted at palanca30087@sas.edu.sg.

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