Let’s start the endorsements
It always makes news in the United States when a major newspaper endorses a candidate for president. Remember all the chatter in 2012 when many of the newspapers that supported President Barrack Obama in 2008 turned their backs on him? Pundits of every stripe were talking about it, and how it didn't bode well for the president.
In the end, it didn't matter. Obama is still president, and Mitt Romney now only seems to surface when he's photographed filling his vehicle with gasoline, looking all disheveled and unexceptional.
On the other hand, there was the 2011 federal election in this country. The list of newspapers endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives was as long as your arm, and look what happened. The Conservatives won a majority with 166 seats in the House of Commons, comfortably more than the 155 needed for a majority.
Obviously it was the endorsement of all these newspapers that helped push the Tories over the top. Right?
Well, does it make a difference? Can the opinion of a newspaper editorial board sway voters in one direction or another? Not likely, especially in this day and age when newspaper circulation is declining, and reader skepticism is greater than ever.
But here at The Compass, we like to be adventurous once and a while, so hold on to your … ballot.
We are mere weeks away from Sept. 24, when voters throughout the province will go to the polls to elect their municipal council for the next four-year term. It may not be on the scale of a U.S. presidential election, or compare to the fight for power in Ottawa or St. John's, but community newspapers are grassroots, and municipal elections are as grassroots as you're going to get.
So what's stopping us from endorsing a candidate for mayor in Bay Roberts or Carbonear or Upper Island Cove? Wouldn't you like to know our views? Would it even matter to you?
As community journalists, we spend a fair share of time attending municipal council meetings, and interacting face-to-face with mayors, deputy mayors and councillors. We get to see how they act under pressure, get a sense of whether they bring vision and balance to a debate, and assess whether their intentions are all-embracing or selfserving.
So we should have some superior insight, right? Our opinions should count. Shouldn't they?
Should we take the risk of irritating some portions of our readership, potentially drive off advertisers, and perhaps give the perception that there's bias in our news coverage? It's oh, so tempting, since we have so much we could say.
But alas, our readers will have to go to the ballot box without the widsom of our insights, with this one exception. If there are females on your ballot, give this candidate some serious consideration. All too often, the council table is male dominated, and this has to change.
— By Terry Roberts