How much do you rely on the newspaper when you head into the polls?
Those looking for last-minute advice on whom they should vote for will have to go elsewhere as The Herald-Tribune's parent company Halifax Media announced in one of the Herald-Tribune's sister papers, The Ledger. Charter amendments will continue to be up for endorsement.
The Lakeland Ledger shared with its readers that Halifax in an Aug. 16 memo called for all of its papers to stop political endorsements and candidate endorsements in its editorials. Halifax CEO Michael Redding said that endorsements are perceived as unfair, The Ledger reported:
"Endorsing and recommending candidates has the potential to create the idea we are not able to fairly cover political races," Redding said. "Right or wrong, it is the perception."
"Sometimes it annoys more readers than it enlightens," said University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus. "When so much information is available on candidates from other sources, you're not educating voters as much.
"News is a business, and the payback for endorsements has been minimized while the blowback is intensifying."
It's not exactly a new debate, but it's a position that larger, well established newspapers are reconsidering. Chicago Sun-Times in January and the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2009 have both halted endorsements.
Then there are newspapers that reaffirm the importance of endorsements. Just days after the Sun-Times said it would no longer provide endorsements or recommendations, the Chicago Tribune touted the service:
"In our editorials, we explain what we think should be done about government pension costs, educational shortcomings, political dysfunction and more. We offer our opinions on issues from the mundane to the cosmic.
Not least important, we endorse candidates, from the top of the ballot to the bottom. To arrive at our choices, we send out questionnaires, scrutinize voting records and public statements, and interview hundreds of candidates. We make our evaluation of which ones will best serve the interests of the public. And then we tell our readers."
The biggest help for voters, experts told The Tampa Tribune is for those offices where the only coverage is the endorsement itself — mainly judges and court posts.
Do political endorsements and recommendations from newspapers help you decide who and what to vote for? Will you miss the Herald-Tribune's endorsements? Tell us in the comments.