Think independently

By the time seniors graduate and summer rolls around, undergraduates at UVM will have a new Student Government Association president.

Candidates are already starting their campaigns, and there are many qualified, capable people who could fill the position.

Candidates will be asking for endorsements from clubs, prominent individuals and perhaps even the student newspaper.

However, the Cynic will not be endorsing a candidate for SGA president. The tradition of newspapers endorsing political candidates is long and rich in this country.

Regardless, like many aspects of the media industry, things are changing. Newspapers aren’t the power brokers they used to be.

Rather, they’re taking on a slightly different, more diminished role in popular discourse.

In professional newsrooms, the editorial board is distinct from the broader newsroom in order to maintain independence between the news gathering process and the process that decides the stance of the paper.

Logistically, that isn’t possible at a student paper like the Cynic.

People talk. Our newsroom doesn’t have any walls. We haven’t developed a mechanism to get this level of independence.

In order for us to remain an honest broker of opinion, we must be honest with our readers about our ability to remain independent.

An endorsement is a delicate practice. It can be easily interpreted as a way for the paper to do critical thinking for its readers.

Furthermore, it can easily diminish integrity.

If the Los Angeles Times supported Obama — which it did, to some criticism — is it a liberal paper?

In reality it isn’t, but nobody would fault a reader for leaving with that impression. Conflicts of interest are still conflicts if they’re merely perceived.

Your decision, your vote must be decided by you and you alone. Our editorial page shouldn’t replace independent thought. It probably won’t, either.

More and more research suggests newspaper editorials don’t affect political campaigns to any meaningful degree.

In lieu of endorsements, during this campaign we will draw attention to issues.

As Robert L. Bartley, the one-time Wall Street Journal, which a paper that hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since Hoover, editorial page editor said, “We’re about the issues and can talk about the issues. If that adds up to an endorsement, so be it.’’

We look forward to a lively and productive debate about what’s best for this university we all love. It’s this vein of independent thinking the Cynic’s editorials will follow.