EDITOR'S

Endorsing Candidates
t-l-lHE U.S.electorate was preparing to go to the polls as this was going to press. The 2008 U.S. I issue ol PIR Reports presidential elections have been hailed as "historic" in I that they might result (and by the time this issueis released, are likely to have resulted) in the election of that country's first black president. Although racism is pretty much alive in the United States, Barack Obama's election to the U.S. presidency would suggest that its most virulent forms have receded,although it remains a major factor in U.S. polifics. Were it not for his race, Obama would win (or would have won) overwhelmingly over any rival from the Republican Party, given the disaster the Bush administration has inflicted over the last eight years on both the US and the world. If Obama has won the U.S. presidencp the media would have played a major part in it. His campaign strategy included TV infomercials and ads meant to depict him as a reasonable, balanced,conciliatory, and open individual concernedwith both country and people.Obamaknew that he had to overcome the racist bias that, beyond the more virulent forms still resident in neo-Nazi and other fringe U.S. groups, still lives in subtler forms in the consciousness many whites in the US of who fear and despiseblacks. However, any assessment the impact of Obama's ads and of infomercials on the outcome'of the U.S. presidential elections can be credibly made only by research.The same is true of the newspaperendorsements Obama'scandidary, which, a week of before the Nov. 4 elections,were running at two tb one in his favor, with 231endorsing him and 102endorsing John McCain. The U.S.joumal Editor and Publisher, which covers the publishing industry, said the combined circulation of the newspapers that had so far endorsed Obama was 21 million readers, compared to seven million for the newspapersthat had expressedsupport for McCain. Editor and Publishernoted that the Obama lead in endorsementscontrastedsharply with that of DemocraticParty presidential candidate]ohn Kerry in the 2004U.S. presidential elections.Kerry then led re-electionistGeorge W. Bush in newspaper endorsementsby a slim 213 to 205. E and P also said that 46 of the newspapers that endorsed Obama this year supported Bush in 2004. are While newspaperendorsements normal during U.S.elechas Philippine polls since1992, tions, their absence characterized when the first presidential elections were held after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship and its replacement by the Aquino government. While many media practitioners as well as ordinary citizens don't seem to favor it, a newspaper's or a broadcast station's endorsing candidates seemsonly natural of organizations engagedin the disseminationand discussionof public issues.That ifs not happening today in the Philippine media is mostly due to the latter's belief that they have to nurture the myth that they're "objective" and neutral while some practitioners also feel that it would affect their credibility. And yet a media endorsementforewams the public what to expectfrom the coverage if made at the start of the campaign,or puts the coveragein perspective if made on the eve of an election. Endorsements also endow the public with a perspectivefrom which to evaluate the media organization's coveragenot only of the elections, but of other issues. The Philippine media shouldn't restore the practice just becausethe U.S. media are doing it, or even becausethe Philippine media used to do it before the declaration of martial law tn 1972. Rather should they do it for the sakeof transparency.Like the U.S. media the Philippine media are controlled by various political and businessinterests,and an endorsementcould give the public a senseof how those interests help shape their coverage. Filipinos will go to the polls in 2010 to elect a president, among others. Somehonesty on the part of the media to admit (although perhaps only to themselves)that they do have preferencesbecauseof their individual and/or owners' interests should lead to their restoring the practice of endorsing candidates during elections.It would be an opportunity to help voters decide who could best lead this country-and would certainly be more honest. Luis V. Teodoro Oct. 31,2008. Adapted from a columnln BusinessWorld)

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