Pine Knot News - A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Editor's Note: Your political thoughts are welcome, with some rules


October 9, 2020

In an election season that is even more divisive than usual, the Pine Knot News welcomes your thoughts on the politics of the day, along with endorsement letters. Letters must be truthful, civil and original to the writer. We hold our columnists to the same standards.

But the paper itself will not endorse any candidates.

That’s not because I don’t believe in endorsements. Done correctly, they play an important role in our democracy.

But it takes a lot for a newspaper to go through the endorsement process. Not only do select staff or editorial board members have to interview each candidate, the same people should be part of every interview (at least for a particular race). Those people should represent a variety of political viewpoints. Here’s the kicker — not only should the newspaper prepare its questions beforehand, interviewers should also know what answers they are looking for before the interviews even start, if they want to avoid being swayed solely by personality.

The first newspaper I worked at in the 1990s gave endorsements, but the publisher was the only common factor in the interviews. He made the calls on the endorsements. Sadly, that is likely the case for most smaller newspapers, either because of a lack of staff, an excess of ego or both. I’ve also worked at papers where the owners require papers to endorse certain candidates, regardless of local factors, which I also believe is wrong.

Our focus is on getting as much information to readers as we can, like last week’s voters’ guide that went into nearly every mailbox across Carlton County. We want readers to have a solid base of information on which to decide their votes, be it by mail or at the polls on Election Day.

In the meantime, if you have not already mailed your ballot back or dropped it into the box at the courthouse, we encourage you to do even more research. Make sure your sources are actual news agencies that check facts, and remember that advertisements (and endorsement letters on the opinion pages) are designed and written to influence your opinion in a particular way.

Then exercise your most vital right in a democracy — vote.

Jana Peterson is the editor of the Pine Knot News. She can be reached at [email protected]


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