As We Enter Endorsement Season, It’s Important to Remember What an Editorial Is

Housekeeping first: MA101 is hosting a scary story contest for Halloween, and you should submit! Get your work up on the internet, have a shot at winning some delicious Wisconsin beverages, and earn a free MA101 guest post for your blog if you have one (I promise not to shit all over it too badly). Do not be shy! First-timers can tell stories too! We are not picky here, as long as it’s original work and you haven’t already sold it to someone who will come and sue my pants off. I need my pants.

Now then, onto the post:

Not all newspapers do endorsements, but the ones that do usually do them in October, during the last run-up to the big November election.

In a lot of ways I actually find the local endorsements more interesting than the Presidential ones, which you can usually guess from the paper’s general slant, though you always get a few surprises like this year’s Winston-Salem Journal endorsement of Obama. (OrĀ is it a surprise? The W-SJ was taken over by Berkshire Hathaway in May, so if you like the fit of your tinfoil hat a little too tight it will probably be obvious that Warren Buffet personally wrote this year’s endorsement.)

But regardless of the paper or the candidate, this is a good time to stop and remember what editorials — of which endorsements are a subspecies — really are.

I realize the line has gotten blurred in this day and age. Sites like The Sideboob Gazette Huffington Post and the Gawker family of blogs don’t really have “editorials” set apart from the rest of the “news” because they aren’t really news sites, per se. But old-fashioned newspapers still sometimes set a page aside for the opinions of their senior editorial staff, which is helpfully labeled either the “Opinion” or “Editorial” page. This is how you know it is not news.

Unfortunately, this is a tough message to get across to people who largely consume their news online…


All of which is good fun to laugh at, and I encourage you to do so.

But you know? Maybe that last commentor is onto something.

Editorials have a pretty slimy political history if you go back far enough. For that matter, they have some slimy history without going back very far, too, and the underlying idea really is a kind of insulting one: that the guy who produces your paper is somehow more qualified to judge which candidate is the right one than you, and that his opinion should influence yours. Which is probably true, since, y’know, guy is on top of the news and all, but still doesn’t sit well with our American spirit of independence and fuck-you.

So maybe these Facebook people that don’t understand the difference between the editorial page and the news are onto something. Why shouldn’t newspapers like the Winston-Salem Journal confine themselves to pure news, huh? Why they gotta tell us how to live, just because they’re a newspaper and all? Huh? Huh?

…yeah, or maybe these people are just idiots. Hey, check out the lady ranting about socialism! She hasn’t paid for the paper for years (her own admission), but she still comes and reads it for free, and leaves comments — also for free. DAMN MOOCHER 47%ER GO BACK TO KENIA.

But seriously, kids, never read the comments.

    • Andi
    • October 19th, 2012

    the Omaha World Herald was recently purchased by Berkshire Hathaway, but they still endorsed Romney. Granted, they’re in Nebraska, and there’s only so much ‘socialism’ you can get away with there.

  1. November 5th, 2012

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