OPINION | Endorsements harm media’s credibility

On Monday, Butler University students will hit the polls ready to vote for the next Student Government Association president.

For those reading this very editorial, they’re seeing the giant headline that shows that the staff of The Collegian approves of Mike Keller and found him to be the best-suited candidate in the election.

You’ll see that six staff members abstained. I am one of those six.

Abstinence is the way to go with endorsements, especially during a fragile time in media.

Throughout my time practicing journalism at this fine institution, I’ve been told countless times to never let the source or the reader know what I’m thinking unless I’m appearing on an opinion page, and even then, I should know when not to cross any lines.

News outlets seem to just ignore those lines and slap their stamp of approval on a candidate just because it’s election season or because it’s the tradition.

Regardless of the tradition of endorsing a candidate, there’s no place in the newspapers for special treatment of
anyone.

The most that a newspaper endorsement can do is to tell people which candidate they should vote for.

That’s why candidates have press secretaries.

If a candidate wants to get ahead in the race, stop talking to the newspaper and start showing why he or she will be the best SGA president ever.

Credibility with the press is at an all-time low with Americans, according to the annual Pew Research poll on the media. Only 38 percent of Americans view news media outlets as moral.

At this time where all media outlets—The Collegian included—are working to improve their reputation for balanced news coverage, it is a step in the wrong direction to back a candidate.

By putting our staff support toward a candidate, those at The Collegian may have damaged the ability to look fair, balanced and level-minded when covering the remainder of the election and next year’s SGA.

A candidate who didn’t receive The Collegian endorsement could say that any future coverage of him or her was not in a fair
light.

And if Keller wins, we run the risk of him thinking that we’re never going to question any of his
actions.

Endorsing a candidate jeopardizes the credibility and reputation of future coverage in The
Collegian.

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