Commentary: One tradition continues another ends

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Sangamon County, it is time for good news: Nominations for the State Journal-Register’s 58th annual First Citizens award are open.

Tell us about those dedicated people who are relentless in serving this community. People like last year’s winner Teresa Haley, president of the NAACP in Illinois and Springfield, who has been a tireless champion for the state and region. She also will lead our selection committee.

In a year where a pandemic has challenged our lives and all corners of our community, who is that deserving person who has answered the call to serve? Make your nominations at sj-r.com/first-citizen by Oct. 16. The winner will be announced Nov. 29.

There are few community recognition programs with the esteem of the First Citizen. We are proud to continue the tradition.

And as we celebrate the kick-off of one tradition, we are ending another — the SJ-R will not endorse candidates for office.

That decision was not made lightly.

Political endorsements have been a tradition for many news organizations. However, they are a holdover of days past, and I am not convinced that any endorsement we made would influence you to vote for a particular candidate. In 2008, when the country was not nearly as polarized as it is today, the Pew Research Center found local newspaper endorsements garnered mixed results — 14 percent of voters were positively influenced by them, 14 percent negatively influenced.

The SJ-R is not alone in its decision to move away from endorsements. News organizations across the country have made similar choices. The Dallas Morning News announced earlier this year that they would not endorse a candidate for president. The Peoria Journal Star and The Indy Star are among those who also will not make endorsements this election.

At SJ-R, we want to devote our time to informing you about the issues affecting our community. Armed with that information, you can decide how best to cast your vote.

We have posed questions to candidates in the 13th U.S. Congressional District race — Rep. Rodney Davis and challenger Betsy Londrigan — and those seeking state legislative offices. Their responses will publish in the coming weeks. We also are inviting candidates in some races to make their cases in op-ed columns. We will preview the tax amendment proposal and highlight down-ticket races for state’s attorney and county board too. Be sure to listen to the Under the Dome podcast hosted each week by political writer Bernard Schoenburg and statehouse insider Doug Finke for election insight.

While our approach is changing, it fits today’s political climate.

As always, thank you for reading The SJ-R.

Leisa Richardson is executive editor of the State Journal-Register and Lincoln Courier.

via Lincoln Courier

September 19, 2020 at 08:18PM

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