Letter from the Editor: Why we publish political endorsements

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Although many newspapers have stopped publishing political endorsements, The Oregonian decided to endorse a presidential candidate this year — for the first time since 2012.

In an editorial to readers, Therese Bottomly, editor and vice president of content,  explained the paper's decision, saying: "We decided this year to endorse in the race for president because, despite our smaller staff, we felt as a board it was important to say where we stood on the most important national race. We don’t harbor illusions that our endorsement in the race will change minds."

“Our opinion pages are meant to serve as a catalyst for consideration and discussion of key issues in our community,” John Maher, president of Oregonian Media Group, was quoted in the editorial.  “Readers should expect to agree with some material they experience on those pages and to disagree with other material. The same is true for endorsements. Voting is one of the two most impactful ways a citizen can directly influence our democracy; the other is jury duty service. The action a citizen takes in each of these cases is a personal decision derived from facts and arguments presented in combination.”

He added, "The aim of our endorsement is to foster further consideration by voters and conversations about candidates and issues that are important to our community. If a voter who disagrees with our endorsement is more confident in their decision after reading our argument, we’ve succeeded. If a voter who agrees with our endorsement learns something new through our rationale, we’ve succeeded. And if an undecided voter explores an issue or candidate further based on our endorsement, we’ve succeeded.”

In her column, Bottomly took the opportunity to explain to readers what goes into the endorsement process, including the research and fact-gathering that the staff conducts.

She wrote: "The process works like this: Helen Jung, opinion editor, takes the lead in organizing meetings with proponents and opponents of measures, as well as with the candidates. Along with Jung, board members are John Maher, president of Oregonian Media Group; Therese Bottomly, editor and vice president of content; Laura Gunderson, director of public interest and accountability; and Amy Wang, special projects editor.

"The board debates and discusses the merits of proposals and candidates, guided by the longstanding principles the institution has stood for and the most pressing issues facing the community."

Read the full column from The Oregonian

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