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The Future will not endorse a candidate

Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010 14:02

The intent of this column, summed up, is to announce that under my direction, the Central Florida Future will not be endorsing a candidate for the 2010 Student Government Association Presidential elections. 

A warning to those who may be thinking that it is because we don't like either candidate this year: That is false.

There is a long list of reasons why I have decided to take the Future in this direction, and that is simply not one of them. Reporters from this newspaper have met with both tickets. Both have been respectful and willing to cooperate.

This was not an easy decision to make. Endorsing a candidate is something of a time-honored tradition within the newspaper world, spanning back to the days of muskets and wooden teeth. It's almost as ingrained in the world of print as mastheads and typesets.

Looking back, the Future has endorsed the candidate that would go on to win the presidential seat three of the past four elections — and that's only going back as far as I can remember as a student at UCF and someone involved with the Future. It is clear the weight that an endorsement from the student newspaper can have in these kind of elections.

As an opinions editor during the spring of 2008, it was my job to write the Future's endorsement, so it's something that I have a sentimental attachment to as well.

However, I recognize that times have changed.

All it takes is a look at the most common complaint against the current state of the media to understand where the problem is: the perception of bias within reporting.

While we may have full faith in our ability to edit a newspaper and also to endorse a candidate, we understand that many of you question our ability to do this — and frankly the ability of the media as a whole to do this.

So, to stop this problem completely, we can end the process of formally endorsing a candidate. All you digest as a reader are the facts we present to you, and you have the ability to form your own personal endorsement with those facts.

There is so much of our news hole that is devoted to covering the goings-on of SGA that it is simply too much of a risk for you, our readers, to think we carry a bias.

Another reason for my decision to end the Future's run at formal endorsements was the advancement of the clear line between what happens on the Opinions page of this newspaper and what happens in the News section. One needs to stay very separate from the other.

Although the stances we present on the page are indeed "Our Stance," or the collective thought of the entire staff, the arguments are formulated and written by a single editor who is not allowed to provide the News section of the paper with content. This keeps everything in its own little world.

Instead of us formally endorsing a candidate, we will be providing you with a 600-word statement from each of the candidates in the Opinions section Monday. Both candidates have been contacted about this, and they know the option awaits them.

This way, you will hear directly from their mouths what they say they have to offer you.

Also, if any individual, representative of a group or RSO would like to send us your endorsement, we will run those as well.

I'm fine with using the Opinions page as a conduit for the thoughts of others.

And to quash this argument before it even has a chance to surface, this is not out of laziness either.

Although I am only in charge of the newspaper for a few more months, it is my hope that my successor, as well as anyone else who will continue managing the paper into the future, will continue this precedent of not using the Future to endorse a candidate.

Thanks, and happy voting.

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Fri Feb 19 2010 14:49
Jeff, I applaud what you have done. I have stayed away from the Future for a very long time now because of the history of bias it has had. Although this is a small step it is in the right direction.

I am sure that you don't take these negative comments below personally. I guarantee most of them are from the candidates that didn't get the endorsement they wanted or potential editors that didn't get your job.

Mainstream journalism in declining, but you have actually done something to fix that, bravo!

Thu Feb 18 2010 23:46
Awful! Worst decision ever! Journalism is dying around you! I hate you! I hate you, Jeff Riley! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!?!?!?!?!?

There, according to anonymous #2's standards, you are now officially doing your job. To quote a below average movie, via con dios. Stay out of the greater Kansas City metro area. Did you know it's not even in Kansas?

Thu Feb 18 2010 21:27
Let's be clear: there is no such thing as an unbiased newspaper. All things are biased, because everything is being acted upon by something else and our perception is to a degree, relative. We should be aware of biases, and the best a media outlet can do is to allow an open conversation on their pages regardless of said bias. This paper has done this very well and should not be afraid to allow their editors to voice their own opinion's. As long as they allow their readers and other authors to challenge their narrative, well that's really all you can ask for in a publication.

My opinion is that neither ticket is anything more than the blandest continuation of the "do-nothing, strive to have no input in actual university affairs" tendency of SGA. I believe that students want more of their student government than to simply dole out funds for conferences. These candidates seem virtually the same in their hollow promises focused on trendy buzz words like "traditions" and "sustainability". I can see why so few students want anything to do with SGA. We can do better than this.

Thu Feb 18 2010 20:30
I support this! A newspaper should remain unbaised. Jeff, you have done great work at the Future over the past few years and this is a good thing you are doing. Screw the haters--they just want drama.
Thu Feb 18 2010 19:11
Seriously, Jeff?

You think this is a good decision?

Ridiculously flawed decisions such as these are why you will, in all likelihood, never win awards in the greater Kansas City metro area.

Thu Feb 18 2010 17:45
The decision to not endorse a canidate would allow the paper to report on all issues,positions and sides ,without any "reader predisposition" to think the canidite that the paper is standing behind is getting a more favorable eye.
Thu Feb 18 2010 17:35
I respect this paper only because of you. This, however, is not a good decision. That endorsement is actually legit opposed your joke counterpart.
Thu Feb 18 2010 16:54
Jeff, worst decision you've ever made as a journalist. You should be ashamed. You of all people should know that the one of the last true bastions of free expression is a college newspaper's editorial board.

Instead, I feel like you have succumbed to the influences of your advisor (Michelle Yoffee-Beard) and general manager (Ray Bush). You've taken the Florida Today approach to journalism: Don't piss people off.

Well, Jeff, that's not journalism. If people aren't pissed at you, you're not doing your job. To quote an average movie, nut up or shut up.

Or, more aptly, help your readers make an informed decision about who will be at the helm of spending a multi-million budget. Or stand by idly and watch journalism die around you.

Your choice.

Thu Feb 18 2010 00:20
Jeff, I am not sure I entered Submit on my comment so I will try again: Jeff Your article was very interesting. It is people like you that makes me confident we are in good hands with our future Editors, Doris Clanin

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