One of the traditions in newspaper opinion journalism is the editorial endorsement of both candidates and referendums. Some newspapers around the country, though, are abandoning a part of this historic role, including several in Florida.
Of the largest 100 newspapers, the Wall Street Journal usually does not endorse candidates, USA Today does not recommend political candidates, and the Virginian Pilot announced in 2007 that it would no longer endorse presidential candidates. This year, the Chicago Sun-Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Portland Oregonian decided to sit out this presidential election after endorsing four years ago. The Herald Editorial Board will not issue a recommendation in the presidential contest this year either.
With daily newspaper coverage of the campaigns, vast troves of information on the Internet and near constant television reporting and commentary, Manatee County voters have been deluged with information about President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. We do not believe our viewpoint is either necessary or desired as the vast majority of voters have already determined their choice.
Unlike the well documented and discussed presidential elections, local elections cannot be covered in a similarly broad manner.
This Editorial Board, which functions independently from the Herald's news reporting operation, will continue to endorse in political contests where Manatee County issues are paramount -- from school board to municipal and county elections to legislative and congressional contests.
Board members research issues, interview candidates and stage forums in order to gain insight that we can share in our editorials. Our purpose is to foster public debate and discussion so voters are informed and comfortable with their decisions -- regardless of their choice of candidates.
We expect our recommendations to elicit reactions both pro and con, some expressed in letters to the editor, some in online postings attached to our editorials, others in private conversations.
During every election season, we get calls from readers anticipating our thoughts on candidates and issues -- especially this year with so many constitutional amendments on the ballot, many written in esoteric language.
But in this presidential contest, voters are privy to all of the same information as this Editorial Board, and our opinion does not count as much as in Manatee County contests.
A list of our endorsements can be found today on the Op-Ed page. All of our editorials recommending either candidates or constitutional amendments can be found in one place on our website -- at www.bradenton.com/endorsements.
The Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, videotaped candidate forums in key races. Those videos can be found online attached to our recommendation editorials.
METV is also regularly airing all the forums, and the station can be viewed on Brighthouse channel 614, Verizon FIOS 31 and Comcast 19. For METV airtimes, visit www.metvweb.com.