Please don’t confuse our candidate recommendations with fake news


It’s not fake news, it’s an editorial.

That’s what we would like our readers to keep in mind when we publish our candidate recommendations over the next several weeks in our Opinion section.

Weighing in on political races is a long tradition at the Tri-City Herald – as it is at many other newspapers around the country.

Although we do this every fall before Election Day, there are always people who don’t fully understand the process. They get angry when they read our recommendations and complain because they believe newspapers shouldn’t be biased. They say journalists have no business picking one candidate over another.

So let us explain.

Reporters work in the newsroom. They conduct interviews, attend meetings and write the facts of a story, all the while striving for objectivity.

Editorial writers work independently from the news staff, take those facts and put them into perspective.

The point of the opinion section is to encourage a dialogue with our readers and with the community.

When it comes to editorials on specific political races, we aren’t trying to tell people how to vote. Rather, we see our suggestions as a tool people can use as they mark their ballots, which we think is of value.

When we invite candidates to meet with us, we try to arrange it so both can attend at the same time. That way they can defend themselves right away if accusations come up.

Our Editorial Board is in the unique position of being able to question candidates in an informal setting. Unlike a scripted debate, our conversations are often unpredictable, and that can be telling.

Meeting with us is probably the closest the candidates come to a job interview for the elected position. In the case of incumbents, it can be like a job evaluation – it gives us a chance to hold them accountable.

After our session, members of the Editorial Board discuss our thoughts and impressions, and then agree on who gets the nod.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t go by political party. We recommend who we think is the best candidate – regardless of whether there is an R or a D behind their name.

Many times both candidates are terrific, and we have a difficult time choosing between them. When we say the public will be well served regardless of which candidates wins, we mean it.

Readers should take the time to go beyond our headlines and read the entire editorial. That’s where the details are, and it might be that what caused us to lean one way will cause someone else to lean in the opposite direction.

This year we have asked some former Editorial Board members back to help with our election recommendations. They are retired Herald publisher Jack Briggs, and past reader representative Jason Hogue.

They are in addition to our current team, and we appreciate their insight.

We also appreciate everyone who is running for office. Challengers with passion and energy help keep incumbents on their toes.

So be on the lookout for our candidate recommendations, and feel free to let us know what you think.

Just please don’t call our editorials fake.