Monday, October 12, 2009

Media Monday: Atlanta Journal-Constitution will no longer endorse political candidates

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution announced last week that the newspaper will no longer be endorsing candidates in political elections.

Growing up in Georgia, the Atlanta newspaper has always been my hometown newspaper. One of its former owners, Henry Grady, was well known for attempting to get Southerners to deal progressively with racial issues in the late 1800s.

There have been a lot of changes at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lately. Major metro newspapers, like the AJC, have been much harder hit with advertising revenue declines so the newspaper has had to eliminate many positions.

Earlier, this year, the AJC underwent a redesign that drastically changed the look and format of the newspaper.

And just today, longtime sports columnist Furman Bisher announced he was retiring.

I can handle most of those changes, but what I can't handle is a newspaper that is refusing to endorse candidates. For years - for better or for worse - newspapers have endorsed candidates.

While in the end, it's hard to tell whether it helps or hurts a candidate, it does provide some perspective.

When the Amarillo Globe-News endorses candidates, we don't expect everyone to go vote for the newspaper's candidates. But we do feel there is a responsibility to help shape public discourse and opinion.

What's next? No more movie reviews that might hurt someone's feelings because they don't agree with what's published?

For a newspaper that once helped lead change in the region to abdicate its role is a sad commentary indeed.

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