From the editor: So about that endorsement…

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Last week, the University News ran a front-page editorial entitled, “We’re (mostly) with her: The UNews endorses Clinton for president… with some reservations.” In it, we discuss the various reasons why we believe Secretary Clinton, despite her flaws, is the best candidate for president: her proven experience, pragmatic leadership and extensive knowledge of salient issues.

The reaction to our endorsement, predictably, was mixed. SLU professor Dr. Joseph Koerner wrote to us to offer his “sincere appreciation for the 10/20 endorsement of Hillary Clinton and for your outstanding presentation for the endorsement.” On our Facebook page, commenter Patrick Griffin expressed his disapproval, saying, “I can’t like a page that supports a liar and a thief.”

We, of course, expected this to be the case. Presidential elections are always controversial, and this one has been far from ordinary. No other election in recent memory has featured two candidates so unpopular, nor a campaign so malicious, nor an electorate so divided.

The purpose of our endorsement was not only to educate and persuade students to vote for Secretary Clinton, but also to offer up our unique perspective as a focal point for discussion in the SLU community. In this regard, I believe we have been successful. However, there were some reactions I found rather puzzling. A few readers accused our paper of “bias,” or even questioned our authority to make an endorsement at all. I was hoping to take this opportunity to clarify some confusion I have encountered.

If you have read this paper all the way through to page 10, there’s a good chance you are familiar enough with journalism and the UNews that the following may seem obvious. But for those not aware, endorsing political candidates is a common and longstanding practice among many newspapers across the country, and The University News has a history of running editorials selecting our preferred candidate (or candidates) in various elections. In some years, we have even endorsed student candidates for SGA elections. Our most recent endorsement does not represent a departure from this tradition.

As stated in our charter, the University News is a student voice, not the student voice of SLU’s campus. The decision to endorse Hillary Clinton was made by the UNews Editorial Board and was intended to represent the views of a majority of our editors — not SLU as a whole, or even the student body. It was a decision we took very seriously and discussed thoroughly. In fact, as evidenced by our second editorial on page 9, it was not even a viewpoint shared by all of our editors, who chose to write a second editorial in disagreement.

I understand and appreciate concerns about media bias. As journalists, objectivity is something we take very seriously in our reporting. (For examples of what I consider to be some of our best examples of objective reporting on controversial topics, I encourage you to check out our prior coverage of the Allen West protests, or last year’s story on the baseball team bias incident).

However, we make a conscious effort to clearly distinguish between news coverage and editorial content in our paper. Te endorsement was neither written nor intended to be read as a news article. Though it was featured on the front page, it was written by the Editorial Board and represents our collective opinion — something we make clear in the first paragraph. We run two editorials every week on a wide variety of pertinent issues; last week, it happened to be about the election. To accuse an editorial of “bias” is both technically true and utterly redundant; it is our opinion, after all.

One of our readers correctly pointed out that CSOs (chartered student organizations) are explicitly prohibited from endorsing presidential candidates. However, The University News is an independent, student-run newspaper — not a CSO. We are entirely self-funded and operate independently of the both SGA and the SLU administration. As such, we are not bound by any of the guidelines for CSOs. Our Editorial Board has complete discretion in publishing content, including editorials.

As always, we welcome and encourage readers to discuss and respond to our decision, and are more than willing to publish letters from those who disagree with us (see Page 9). If this is something you would like to consider, please contact [email protected] for more information.

And if anyone is looking for something that’s really worth getting riled up about, just take a look at the article published to my left.