Newspaper endorsements -- people love 'em or hate 'em. At the Post-Gazette, we think they're important if you intend to have editorials that speak out for the paper on issues of the day.
To the relative few newspapers that run editorials but refrain from endorsing candidates, I always pose this question: Why would you take a position on taxes, wars and other public controversies but not then endorse candidates who may be the collective embodiment of your key positions? It doesn't make sense.
So, here at the PG, where we do endorse (this fall in 22 races and a ballot question), today is a happy day. Happy because the last candidates who traipsed through for endorsement interviews were here yesterday. We are now writing our final endorsement editorials, which will run next week.
Our first endorsement this year ran back on Sept. 28 (for state Auditor General Jack Wagner) and we climaxed with our presidential endorsement on Oct. 12 (for Barack Obama). We'll wrap it all up on Sunday, Nov. 2, with a recap of the endorsements from this cycle. Believe it or not, readers call me every year asking for that because they take it to their polling place. Flattering, yes, and maybe a little scary.
You may be wondering if presidential endorsements by newspapers make a difference. Just ask President John Kerry. A tabulation by Editor & Publisher magazine showed that in 2004, he won the backing of 213 papers, compared to George Bush's 205.
This year the endorsement tally so far is more lopsided. According to E&P's count yesterday, Obama had a landslide of support from 127 papers vs. John McCain's 49. Then today the New York Times released its own endorsement for Obama. Who knows what all this will mean for election day?
Do you read endorsements? Do they carry any weight with you? We're going to do them anyway.