Courtesy of Pexels

Alden Global Capital, the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, has announced this election season that it will no longer endorse political candidates running for president, gubernatorial and senate positions. This shift comes as more people are paying attention to and realizing the importance of local elections. With a large majority of people now becoming more politically active, this change ends a long standing print tradition, but welcomes a new era for people wanting to better understand their local government. 

The end of endorsements is occurring as print media tries to distance themselves from misinformation. Endorsements are meant to help guide voters and provide information so that they can make sense of the political sphere. The opinion articles that come out with the newspapers’ candidate choices, however, are often taken as fact and used with little to no outside research done by the reader. This problem is not the fault of readers but instead falls on the way elections and politics are conducted in the country. Political jargon is confusing to the average person and is made to keep voters in the dark. The influx of campaign material that people receive and intake, whether online, through television, text messages or in the mail, is overwhelming. Instead, most people end up following endorsements and guides from publications or organizations that they already trust to make their voting decisions. This can be harmful and creates a less political and media literate nation. 

Endorsements from news sites can also be detrimental to a publication’s credibility. While journalism should be neutral and unbiased, the majority of media companies tend to lean towards different sides of the political spectrum with some being more towards the right or left. Readers of the various newspapers typically understand the position of the company that they support, but not everyone should be expected to distinguish the difference. This is especially true if someone is a first time voter or if English is not their first language. In this instance they can fall victim to the agenda of a side that does not align with their needs. 

It is also a concern of how the candidates endorsed are being selected. Not all endorsements are transparent and there could be lobbying or other deals being made behind the scenes that the public is oblivious to. The candidates selected reflect the company and can result in backlash if they end up in a scandal. It is difficult to know everything about a candidate and their political lives are often considered separate from their personal lives, although they should be looked at as a whole candidate. 

By shifting from national endorsements to local ones, newspapers can better assist their communities. Too many voters only take an interest in national elections. They are taught to trust the two party system and typically vote for the candidate that their party has also already endorsed. These types of voters then get upset when the change they want to see at the local level doesn’t happen. Governments at all levels should be prioritized, especially local, as they are the ones who make most of the decisions that affect us daily. By not paying attention to these candidates when they are first starting their political careers, Americans are allowing them to rise up in ranking without knowing if they have the same values that they consider important. 

Only allowing local endorsements can create a space for the common person to better understand their own community. Starting with this change could open local politics to a larger array of people who may otherwise feel that it is too complicated or less known to them. Endorsements, however, can only be helpful if the public knows how to use the information they are given. These endorsements should not be taken as fact or used as the only source of research the person does. They should be a place to start and continue from when examining who and what to vote for. This shift in politics, along with material that is readable, will create a public that is more politically active and educated.