Discussion: Is It Ethical for an Entire Editorial Board to Take a Stand Against a Candidate?

About a week ago, I got into a quick Twitter conversation.  (I rarely get on Twitter, but since realizing that it’s a form of mini-blogging I’ve tried to get more on board.)  Charlie Burris, a newscaster for the UT Vols, had tweeted this:

The link leads to a USAToday editorial that explains why people should not vote for Trump.  You may want to go look at it, just for context.

I saw that it was an editorial, and replied:

He then replied back:

(Behold my snark above, usually reserved for close friends)

In the time it took him to reply, I read the actual article (which yes, I should have done before tweeting), and realized it was not written by one sole editor, but was a collaboration of the entire editorial board of USAToday — that is to say, ALL of their editors worked together to write this piece.  So I understood much better what it was that Burris was saying, told him so, and left it at that.

That realization got me thinking.  The USAToday editorial board was obviously within their rights to publish an article like this.  Every American citizen has the right to free speech, and they published the article inarguably as an opinion piece.  While they didn’t all agree on Clinton, they were all united against Trump, and they said so.  The real question here is, was it ethical for them to do so?

In today’s world, there’s almost no such thing as unbiased media.  Journalists can try to be as objective as possible, but it is very difficult to weed out every instance of human bias.  Most big media companies in America lean liberal or conservative, and everyone knows which is which.  However, rarely do we see the leaders of a media company uniting publicly on a hot-button issue.

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with the article.  If media companies are going to lean left or right regardless, I would rather them put that opinion out in the open, if the other option is to claim neutrality and then publish meticulously worded news stories that lean one way or the other.  If I know without a doubt that a company holds certain ideals, it makes it easier to me to filter their articles through my own ideals.

However, I really do see Burris’ point.  News media in its purest form is meant to deliver facts and facts only, and an entire editorial board publicly expressing one opinion completely undermines that goal.  It is hard enough these days to filter through the media, and USAToday probably alienated a lot of readers by taking a public stance against Trump.  Even though they had the right to speak against him, Americans don’t like to see media companies being so blatantly one-sided.

Do you have an opinion on this?  Let me know what you think with the poll below, and feel free to elaborate in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Discussion: Is It Ethical for an Entire Editorial Board to Take a Stand Against a Candidate?

  1. “If media companies are going to lean left or right regardless, I would rather them put that opinion out in the open” – Thank you for this. I’m in complete agreement. Personally, opinion is much more appealing to me than the straight facts. I would much rather read a journalists impressions of an issue (even if I don’t agree) rather than just getting a straight report. But I also think I have the ability to filter and take comments in context – which is necessary when reading opinion.

    I think that the USA Today opinion piece is actually reporting. They are saying that this is the 1st time they have *ever* been compelled to take sides. That is, in itself, news worthy.

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