Do Newspaper Endorsements Matter?

I examine the question in my latest media column for the Rocky Mountain News. The column also looks at how the newspapers conduct their pre-endorsement research.

sbw (mail) (www):
I think it was Brandt Ayers, editor of the Anniston (AL) Star, who told our Press Institute class many years ago that endorsements are like peeing in your blue serge trousers... it gives you a warm feeling for a while and no one seems to notice.
11.17.2007 8:09pm
As I heard it, it was "virtue" and "in the swimming pool;" a classic with a lot of truth to it, regardless of the details.

Newspaper endorsements might mean a little more if they weren't so predictable. Does anyone doubt that in 2016 the New York Times, if there is a New York Times, will endorse the Democrat?
11.17.2007 8:27pm
Of course newspaper endorsements matter!

Anything the NY Times is for, I'm probably against, and vice-versa.
11.17.2007 8:34pm
ky anon:
Newspaper endorsements obviously mean less and less with the decline in newspaper readership. I have noticed, however, that newspapers still carry some credibility, especially in "down ticket" races. Candidates then take those newspaper endorsements and put them into television ads for credibility. For example:
11.17.2007 8:42pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I am waiting anxiously to see who the NY Times endorses. I'll know by the end of Democrat primaries.
11.17.2007 9:42pm
one of many:
Brian, what? Surely they'll wait for the Republicans to finish their primaries before deciding, it isn't like they automatically endorse a Democrat. It has been a while since Ike and the NYT endorsed a Republican for president, but that could just mean they are due.
11.17.2007 11:07pm
Mark H.:
I don't think they've ever mattered much, at least not in modern times (and certainly not to me personally).

Perhaps back in the days of reading weeks old newspapers on the side of a trail in Wyoming or somewhere, they had some minor influence -- assuming those catch-up readers managed to make it into a polling place...
11.17.2007 11:56pm
Newspapers can sway me on local issues where I haven't followed all the arguments, but on national candidates I'd never give a newspaper endorsement a thought.

But blog endorsements can sway me, I notice several familiar names on the Lawyers for Thompson list including:

Jonathan H. Adler
Orin S. Kerr
Eugene Volokh
Todd J. Zywicki

I may not take their word for it completely, but it does give me something to think about.
11.18.2007 4:00am
Bender (mail):
The liberal sheep in Massachusetts pay close attention to the Boston Globe's endorsements. The larger dimocratic herd cast their votes for whichever candidate gave or is likely to give their relatives and friends the most patronage jobs--there are usually quite a few of these jobs available, even after the pols have taken care of their own.
11.18.2007 11:49am
sbw (mail) (www):
We were never sure an endorsement was an asset or a kiss of death. A daily newspaper, we don't endorse, but we advocate specific positions on issues and explain why.

Part of the difficulty a newsaper has with candidates is evident in this example. After a recent local candidate's interview it was clear he was all hat and no cattle. There really isn't a way to write that judgment into a news article. One hopes that the readers discern it from the shallowness and ambiguity of the candidate's statements. However, writing editorials that tease out issues informatively helps readers know enough to make their own judgments.

And on the other side, who likes the way Lou Dobbs or Anderson Cooper try to make your judgments for you. That isn't journalism, that's hubris.
11.18.2007 1:01pm
Let me stick my neck out here and predict that the Rocky Mountain Snooze and the Denver Pest will endorse all the Democrats in contested elections, and any Republicans who might be running unopposed. This proves that they're "balanced".

Just like last time.
11.18.2007 3:52pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Ingeresting that the Denver Post operates off of questionaires and the Rocky Mtn. News actually tries to do a bit more. It would be interesting to see the Post's questionaires and the responses. Why? The Rocky seems to spread around its endorsements a bit. The Post does not. It has become as reliably Democratic as, for example, the New York Times.

And, if you know who they are going to endorse before they actually do it, their endorsements have little, if any, meaning except to illustrate their political biases.
11.18.2007 11:00pm
Truth Seeker:
OK endorsed Thompson?
I thought he was the token Democrat here.
11.18.2007 11:57pm