The Perils of Out-of-town Media

In something I didn’t even notice at first, the Capital did not endorse a candidate for President. Apparently, here’s why:

This is the first year in my memory that The Capital hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate. Our current owners, Landmark Communications, asked all member newspapers to forgo the presidential endorsement because editors have no special insight or expertise to offer in a national race. It is a decision I wholeheartedly agree with.

Which is of course, a curious decision, but one within the purview of the paper’s ownership. But Tom Marquardt goes a little further with this:

While he was publisher here, the late Phil Merrill traveled in Washington circles that brought him close to the candidates and their positions on issues of national importance. He did have the insight that gave him an advantage in selecting the candidates to endorse – and he never missed an opportunity.

Without Phil’s insight, we were left with what we could glean from newspaper and television reports. In local races, however, we talk to most of the candidates and have a better feel for their character, experience and voting records.

Now that’s a hogwash answer in my book. To say that one person who ran in “Washington circles” makes a paper qualified to offer a Presidential endorsement is absurd, much less using Phil Merrill’s passing as a crutch not to offer such an endorsement. And besides, when you are talking about local, smaller media such as the Capital, should not as much time be spent considering the local issues that the next President will impact as much, if not more, than the large national issues?

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I’m not going to rail about how bad out-of-town media ownership is in the sense of taking government action like the left wants, but Landmark’s decision here is doing a disservice to the readers of these local papers, the Capital included.


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