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Why our newspapers make political endorsements

Newspapers make political endorsements to provide voters insight and an opinion of the best candidate to govern. The final decision lies with each voter when they enter the voting booth.

FCC Editorial Advisory Board
FCC Editorial Advisory Board
We are part of The Trust Project.

Every election is important and each has consequences. The midterm elections of 2022 are no different.

During this election year, Forum Communications Co. and its newspapers, radio and television stations will provide news and analysis of local, state and national races. Our readers can find all of our election news content in our "Election 2022" section on our newspapers' websites.

In addition, the FCC management, the FCC Editorial Advisory Board and local newspaper editorial boards will provide a variety of endorsements in political races during the general election campaign.

We endorse candidates and issues because we believe it is our newpapers' responsibility as active and informed members of our community to express our informed ideas. The editorial endorsements come with the spirit of starting conversations, not ending them.

With our vast networks of reporters and more than 130-year history as a company helping our communities grow and prosper is in our business DNA. We believe strongly that when we present choices and opinions then the community will debate and choose to agree with us or not.

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It is not our intention that our editorial endorsements be the final word for voters. We encourage each voter to research and inform themselves. Each voter should then make their own decision when they cast their absentee ballot or enter the voting booth.

How are our endorsements made?

Editorial endorsements are formed by seasoned journalists using traditional news-gathering tools and resources to gather background on candidates and community issues. This may include reviewing data, and documents, researching articles and interviewing candidates or major supporters of referendums.

Editorial boards may interview candidates in person or via live video sessions. Also, sometimes a set of questions is used for candidates to explain their platforms and highlight their accomplishments.

Final decisions on national and statewide endorsements are approved by Forum Communications Co. ownership.

Why do newspapers make endorsements?

Our newspaper endorsements can inform voters as to the strengths and/or weaknesses of competing candidates. Newspaper publishers and editors are leaders in their communities and focus on the needs and priorities of those communities.

Newspaper endorsements are a statement of support for a political candidate in a local, state or national election race. These endorsements run on the editorial page, which provides a variety of opinions and is separate from the news section.

Do endorsements bias news reporting?

Simply, no.

The editorial page is the outlet for the newspaper's leadership and its editorial board, the mouthpiece for the newspaper, plus a collection of community and other opinion content.

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Voter turnout was down 4% in Minnesota and 6% nationwide in the Nov. 8 election when compared to the 2018 midterm.

For the past century or more, the opinion and news sections of major newspapers have been separate entities. An editorial board controls the content of the opinion page, often one or two pages in the A section of a newspaper and on the opinion pages of our websites. News reporters have nothing to do with opinion pages.

Local editorial endorsement decisions lie with a newspaper's management and its editorial board. In some papers, the editorial board includes newspaper and community individuals. At smaller papers, a newspaper's publisher and/or editor often form the editorial board. Editorial board members are often listed on the opinion page.

Forum Communications Co. endorsements

The FCC Advisory Board will form a recommendation based on information from news reporting and online voter guides. Once those recommendations are shared with and approved by company leadership, individual FCC Advisory Board members will craft a company endorsement.
These decisions are guided by our company's mission statement:

Forum Communications Company Mission Statement: We strive to provide information that truly matters to the people of our state and region. Our highest priority is public service — shining light on issues that deeply affect our communities and holding local and state governments and institutions accountable. We feel we have a responsibility to give readers diverse opinions that are broad and fair. In endorsements, we favor business-friendly candidates who stand for government that is not overly intrusive, with regulations that prudently balance costs and benefits. We also prefer candidates who work to solve problems while avoiding divisive posturing.

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We're changing our production schedule, which means we'll be able to include more content in our weekly print edition, writes Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten.
"We would like to thank our generous supporters," write Deb and Katelyn Carter.
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"The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to ensuring that all Minnesota Veterans — regardless of era, age or location — receive the benefits they are earned. We also are honored to recognize our veterans through the official state of Minnesota Veterans Day program each year," writes Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

Why does a newspaper criticize candidates it endorsed?

Political candidates and elected officials endorsed by a newspaper do not get a free pass before or after a primary or general election. Both the news reporters and the editorial board will keep watching candidates on how they campaign during an election and how elected officials govern, whether the newspaper endorsed the politician or not.

Can voters use endorsements in their voting booth?

Voters can take their own notes or endorsement lists into the voting booth. Many newspapers will provide an overall list of their endorsements prior to Election Day.

What is the goal of editorial endorsements?

The goal of an editorial endorsement is not to pick the election winner or to tell voters for whom to vote. The editorial board's endorsement is to share its opinion about the candidates seeking office at the local, state or federal level.

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Our endorsement is simply our opinion and insight into which candidate the editorial board believes would best serve the voters and residents of a specific local, state or federal district.

The final decision remains with each voter as they enter the voting booth and cast their ballot on election day.

Please vote in the general election on Nov. 8.

Reader feedback

Kelly Boldan
Kelly Boldan is editor of the West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minnesota.
Macy Moore / Tribune photo

Readers may respond to this commentary or our coming editorial endorsements by email to this email address: fccadvisory@forumcomm.com.

This commentary column was written by Kelly Boldan, the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. He is a member of the FCC Editorial Advisory Board and the West Central Tribune Editorial Board.

Related Topics: MEDIAPOLICY
The FCC Editorial Advisory Board is a collection of Forum Communications Co. leaders and editors who advise management and write editorials and commentary on the company's editorial positions and operations periodically.
Readers may contact the editorial board via email:
fccadvisory@forumcomm.com
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