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October 26th, 2008
This Martian Life: Endorse this

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if Newstreamz would be making endorsements in the upcoming elections for mayor, city council, commissioners court and others, I might have about .85 cents. That’s .85 cents too much in my opinion.

Our official party line is that we at Newstreamz are in the business of reporting the news. We don’t create news, and news endorsements have a bad tendency to do that. The media should rarely be the subject of their own coverage. Meta-news helps nobody and that’s what endorsements are really.

So, there will be no endorsements from us. I think you’ll live though. You don’t need them.

Aside from the party line I have specific issues with the media making endorsements. It really is a matter of taste when you get down to it. I think many outlets feel they are performing a public service, and I’m not going to call them liars. Maybe they do help in some ways. However, as much as they help, they hurt more.

I spent several years working in political communication and we had a term we used to describe why people wouldn’t listen to political issues. We called it “rational ignorance” and we were always cautioned never to confuse it with stupidity. Simply stated the concept of rational ignorance says people have only so many hours in the day and they have to prioritize, therefore, so do we via shortened messages, negative ads, and a general dumbing down of what should be really important discourse.

That’s really worked out great so far, hasn’t it? Most of the time instead of Benjamin Franklin we usually wind up with Benny Hill, and not even good Benny Hill. It’s a bad parody of rhetoric and a bad joke played on citizens.

After some deep reflection I’ve decided that there is nothing rational about this kind of ignorance because it’s just ignorance. Nothing more. Nothing less. Since when have any of you known any kind of ignorance to be rational? You make time for the important things and elections are one of them.

So why should the media contribute to this devolution of the political and rhetorical process? What’s our interest in making endorsements? Aside from being liked temporarily by one candidate instead of the others I don’t see the benefit here on our end, and the specter of bias is always there to rear its ugly (and often confused) head.

But forget us, here’s why I really believe the media should not make political endorsements. We aren’t in the business of doing your homework, or your thinking for you in the citizenship department. We have no problem reporting the news but it’s up to you to process it and make up your own minds.

Endorsements have the potential to ultimately  decide who votes for whom in the end as well. Sometimes a person will just look at the endorsement page and decide on that alone. That’s just criminal on both ends. It’s bad for us because it takes us out of the news business and puts us into the influence business. Too many confuse those two fields as it is. It’s bad for the voter because if their vote comes solely from that endorsement we replace a citizen with an automaton.

To quote one of my favorite movies, The American President, “America is advanced citizenship. You have to want it bad because it’s going to put up a fight.” Part of that fight is digging in, looking beyond the spin, and seeing for yourselves what these people are really made of. Our opinion does not really count in that regard does it? A committee of a few people that lead some very cynical lives makes media endorsements most of the time. What makes us know your issues more than you do? What makes us the arbitrators of who is worthy for office and who isn’t?

Only you can do that, and you don’t need us whispering in your ear along the way. So I highly encourage all of you to just totally ignore media endorsements. Instead, get out there and figure it out for yourselves because it’s your vote. Endorsements, unfortunately, are sometimes just an excuse to not think about who should be running things and just go with the flow.

So, once again, there will be no endorsements coming from us at Newstreamz. We love our readers and we trust them to make up their own minds. We look forward to the results just like the rest of you. Just remember to get out and exercise the most basic, in fact some would say the most important, obligation of citizenship.

Be an informed voter.

by Sean Wardwell

(Note: the opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and are not the position of Newstreamz.com or its staff)

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0 thoughts on “This Martian Life: Endorse this

  1. Nice article and I agree…BUT, how can the disclaimer below Sean’s name make sense? He’s basically saying that Newstreamz will not make an endorsement, but then the disclaimer says “the opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and are not the position of Newstreamz.com or its staff”. Is what Sean saying the actual position of Newstreamz or is this just a contradictory disclaimer that was accidentally put on the article? Thanks for the clarification!

  2. Yeah, I probably should have tweaked that a little. I add the disclaimer on the end because we don’t do staff editorials. However, not doing endorsements is the official position of Newstreamz because, as stated, we report rather than create news. Everything else is my opinion though and should be treated as such.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. Scott Gregson donated to Susan’s campaign. Isn’t that pretty much an endorsement when the owner of this website gives money to a campaign?

  4. A person’s campaign donation could be construed as a *personal* endorsement. Scott is *an* owner of Newstreamz, not *the* owner of Newstreamz. Newstreamz did not endorse any candidates in this election.

  5. Awesome article, Sean. And I think it’s ridiculous to assume that any personal donation made by any person could be construed as an endorsement by the person’s place of work, regardless of whether or not they have any ownership.

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