Endorsements about having a voice

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

As a community newspaper, how can we turn our back on those we serve when it comes to the important issues facing citizens?

That is my answer whenever I am asked why the newspaper would run the risk of upsetting political candidates, advertisers and others by making endorsements in key local and state races.

The role of any good newspaper’s opinion page is to take a stand and have a voice on issues of great importance to the readers and the community.

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Newspapers were created to serve as a watchdog for citizens, ensuring that government was held in the public light.

It is commonplace for The Tribune to offer critical analysis of the actions of local elected officials, as well as those at a state and national level. This is expected.

But when newspapers weigh in on the candidates themselves — especially at a local level — a small, but vocal, contingent wants to talk about how divisive it is.

Often it is the same candidates who happily seek endorsements who become the loudest detractors if it doesn’t go their way.

The key point is this: How can we have a legitimate voice or right to comment on laws and decisions made by our leaders but then step back and say, “Oh no, we can’t take a stand on the decision makers.”

That approach simply doesn’t make sense and is a cowardly way out, often just an excuse when a newspaper doesn’t have the conviction to stand behind its views. They are either too scared to stand up for what they believe in or are allowing advertisers to impact news judgment.

Neither are a recipe for success and both destroy the integrity of a publication.

Let’s be clear. When it comes to candidates, we really aren’t trying to sway anyone’s vote. Our goal is to simply say that, based on our interviews and analysis of the information we have gathered, Joe Candidate is the best choice.

We aren’t trying to pick winners and the goal isn’t to support one party or another. Endorsements are based solely on the individual races.

When it comes to levies, we will take a more direct approach saying that it would or would not be good for the community if voters supported it.

So, starting today, readers will get to hear which candidates we think can best help our region.

You will see endorsements for county auditor, county commissioner, state representative, state senator, the U.S. House of Representatives and governor.

All of these races are for candidates who directly represent us and are supposed to fight for the issues that are important to us.

Those are areas where we feel we can make intelligent decisions and have an informed voice.

That is our goal and should be the overall goal of every Ohioan that casts a ballot.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.