The editorial board of The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America on Sept. 24. The very next day, the same editorial board published a denouncement of the Republican nominee titled “Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President.” Trump has not yet received an endorsement from a major news publication.
The New York Times is not alone in its endorsement of Clinton; in fact, many publications across the country have been vocal in their support of the Democratic nominee this election cycle, including publications that have not endorsed anyone except the Republican nominee for president in over 100 years.
This election cycle has shattered the patterns, predictions, and expectations of the politically savvy. And though endorsements of candidates by publications are nothing new, it is still surprising to see how many news sources have taken it upon themselves to use the considerable power they wield to make a statement about their values and where their support lies. It has raised the question for us, the editorial board of The Bucknellian, about what the implications of endorsing a candidate may be.
While it is tempting to assume a strong stance on such an important matter, it is undeniable that The Bucknellian, as the campus’ only neutral news publication, is responsible for weighing whether that is an appropriate undertaking.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” South African activist Desmond Tutu said. This quote is likely nothing novel to our readers, but it is important to note that neutrality can say something about where an entity falls in a discussion. We do regret that our role on campus dictates neutrality; however, it is important to understand why neutrality is paramount to the successful existence of The Bucknellian.
Trump and Clinton each pose their own issues–that much is clear. Likability, trustworthiness, lawfulness, and experience are hot topics for both candidates. But it is the more egregious accusations of sexism, racism, and xenophobia on the part of Trump that have spurred many typically conservative publications toward (begrudgingly, at times) endorsing Clinton out of what they have called a moral obligation.
We may agree with some, if not all, of the aforementioned; however, an endorsement would stand in direct contrast to the work of our writers and editorial board, all of whom work diligently to remove bias. An endorsement of any candidate would also draw the ire of those who disagreed, leading to a loss in readership due to a perceived bias spilling over into other areas of the paper.
The credibility of our content, which we proudly stand behind as our best effort at avoiding biases or opinions (except, of course, those in the Opinions section), is of the utmost importance. Journalism is grounded in trust by the reader of the publication, and we are reluctant to have everything we have ever published or will in the future to be tinged with a political voice as a result of endorsing a candidate.
Although we do take our role as the only weekly newspaper on campus very seriously, we do recognize that we don’t have the impressive readership of The New York Times, and therefore cannot assume that our opinions necessarily hold the same weight. While it is tempting to use the platform that The Bucknellian affords us to galvanize readers toward a particular candidate or point of view, it would be irresponsible to jeopardize our role as the only neutral news source on campus, despite our individual political opinions.
And with these considerations in mind, the editorial board of The Bucknellian will not endorse a candidate for president. But make no mistake: our decision to abstain from endorsing a candidate is not for a lack of vested interest in the outcome of this election.