The Chicago Sun-Times has announced that it will no longer endorse particular political candidates for election.
The Sun-Times concludes — accurately, in my view — that people don’t pay a lot of attention to newspaper endorsements anymore, that there are lots of other sources of information available to voters now, and that many people just view endorsements as a tangible sign of claimed bias. The newspaper will continue to publish news articles about the races, as well as the candidates’ responses to questionnaires and video of the newspaper’s interviews of the candidates.
This development shouldn’t come as a surprise; the Sun-Times is just ahead of the curve. Newspaper endorsements used to be crucial to election campaigns and were touted in campaign advertising and pamphlets. But in the golden era of newspaper endorsements, there was no internet, there were no cable TV and political news channels filled with opinionated talking heads, and there weren’t thousands of bloggers and “fact-checkers” and political websites. In the modern media world, newspaper endorsements have been lost in the din. Indeed, the stodgy, sober, platform-based appraisals of the competing candidates that tend to characterize newspaper endorsements are at a decided disadvantage in an age when people seem to crave loud, shouting, over-the-top praise and denunciation.
I’d rather see print journalism stop endorsements altogether than try to compete in the shrillness department with the likes of MSNBC and Fox News commentators.