The News Tribune and its predecessor papers have run election endorsements for a lot longer than I’ve been here – way back into the 1800s, probably. But some people are always shocked and annoyed when we start publishing them.
We have standard explanations for why we endorse. The best is that The News Tribune’s opinion pages comment on issues affecting the South Sound all year long. Our editorial board isn’t going to suddenly go silent when it comes to choosing the leaders who will – for good or ill – shape the region’s future.
Voters can do what they please with our endorsements; most probably ignore them. But we’ve got as much interest in who gets elected as, say, the Labor Council, the Municipal League or the Republican Party. We also work hard to educate ourselves; we try to interview every serious candidate in every race we get into.
Another explanation has to do with history. Newspapers have always made election endorsements. Before the Civil War, in fact, virtually all newspapers existed to promote political parties, religious beliefs or other causes. It wouldn’t have occurred to anyone that they shouldn’t make endorsements. They often put them on the front page.
In modern newspapers, the opinion section is one of the last surviving vestiges of that old-time advocacy. News reporters and editors are paid to keep their opinions out of the paper; we editorialists are paid to put ours in.
That’s why the word “opinion” appears at the top of the editorial page: truth in labeling.
Today we begin our 2010 endorsements with recommendations on congressional candidates in the August primary. If you disagree, write us a letter to the editor. We may have our opinions; that doesn’t mean we won’t print yours.