Newspaper Endorses … Wait — Newspapers Are Still a Thing?

 

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TDS-Logo-BYes, defying all logic or reason, somehow newspapers are still a thing. The Des Moines Register is one and they have a circulation of 85,000 (almost 150,000 on Sundays!). And they actually print on actual paper. (It’s weird we know. They probably still use late 19th century street urchins in flat caps to deliver them.) Every four years (except when they don’t), the Des Moines Register endorses a candidate for President. This year, absent an incumbent, they made two endorsements.

This weekend, they endorsed Marco Rubio as the Republican candidate. According to the Register, he “has the potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream. We endorse him because he represents his party’s best hope.” Do with that what you will. (Unfortunately, our preferred candidate dropped out late last month and was not eligible for the endorsement.)

And lest you think that they’re overburdened by good sense, they also endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying “No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.” (Yes, really.) So, yeah, um, do with that what you will.

So does this much-sought-after endorsement really matter? Well, conventional wisdom is that it’s worth a few points. But we looked at the actual numbers. The Register started making endorsements in 1988. They don’t make an endorsement if an incumbent President is running for reelection, and they made no endorsement in 1992, because Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was running, so Iowa was widely ignored by candidates.

Since then, they have made nine endorsements across both parties. Of those nine, they have endorsed the caucus winner three times (Dole in 1988, Dole in 1996, and George W. Bush in 2000). They endorsed the eventual nominee four times (Dole in 1996, Bush in 2000, John McCain in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012). Only once did their endorsement end up as President (Bush in 2000). And they have never correctly picked the Democratic caucus winner or nominee.

Their record is mixed (however our sample size is super small). They’re neither kingmakers nor the kiss of death. So what does this all mean? Not much.

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There are 13 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    The Daily Shot: And lest you think that they’re overburdened by good sense, they also endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying “No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.” (Yes, really.) So, yeah, um, do with that what you will.

    “Vote for the crook, not the crank.”

    • #1
    • January 25, 2016, at 12:24 PM PDT
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  2. James Lileks Contributor

    Newspapers are indeed still a thing. You may be surprised to find that many popular websites are based on them, or use their reporting for links. Crazy but true!

    • #2
    • January 25, 2016, at 1:08 PM PDT
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  3. Fred Cole Member

    That’s so weird.

    Like I heard that there are some TV shows that are, like, broadcast through the air (and no, like, not over wifi) and you have to be in front of the TV at a certain time or else you can’t see them.

    I guess some people just like old fashioned stuff like making their own pickles or writing text messages on a piece of paper and putting them in one of those blue metal things with the weird eagle beak on the side.

    • #3
    • January 25, 2016, at 1:45 PM PDT
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  4. Valiuth Member

    Interesting to note they have never once picked the Democrat who wins. Lets keep that streak going!

    Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!

    • #4
    • January 25, 2016, at 2:53 PM PDT
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  5. James Lileks Contributor

    To be serious, and hence a humorless pedantic scold, newspapers aren’t like broadcast TV. They’re like the studios that produce content for your DVR. You need a newsroom to report on a community, and that requires salaried people whose sole job is reporting what goes on. Bloggers are great. Not many skip work to attend a school board meeting or court trial.

    Vast swaths of the web would be struck mute for something to write about if all the newspapers disappeared.

    • #5
    • January 25, 2016, at 9:16 PM PDT
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  6. Fred Cole Member

    Like, what’s a DVR?

    • #6
    • January 25, 2016, at 9:18 PM PDT
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  7. Dex Quire Member

    Well if James L. likes newspapers I guess I have to like them because I like James L. – But – my first reaction was the same as this Daily Shot heading….as in, “Huh?” I didn’t realize I was so hip and tuned into the 21st century…(and I don’t even know how to do anything with my iPhone but dial out and that just barely)…someone send me an endorsement app! We still love you James even though you scold us about newspapers…in your honor I’m going to leave my warm cozy glowing laptop and brave the dark and stormy Seattle night in search of a PTA meeting…

    • #7
    • January 25, 2016, at 10:54 PM PDT
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  8. James Lileks Contributor

    Fred Cole: Like, what’s a DVR?

    It’s a device that’s useful for recording programs, which can be offloaded via an Elgado for watching elsewhere, so you don’t have to bother with DRM restrictions on content you’ve bought on a physical medium. It’s really neat! I can help you set one up if you like.

    Dex, I’m an online reader for most things, but nothing beats a good thick weekend WJS. It’s like a steak.

    • #8
    • January 26, 2016, at 12:58 PM PDT
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  9. Fred Cole Member

    James Lileks:

    Fred Cole: Like, what’s a DVR?

    It’s a device that’s useful for recording programs, which can be offloaded via an Elgado for watching elsewhere, so you don’t have to bother with DRM restrictions on content you’ve bought on a physical medium. It’s really neat! I can help you set one up if you like.

    I get that they’re pretty common. Actually, they’re a technology phase I just skipped over. I was an early cord cutter and an early Roku adopter. That phase when everybody got DVRs was something I just skipped over. Like skipping over 8-tracks straight to cassettes.

    • #9
    • January 26, 2016, at 4:18 PM PDT
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  10. James Lileks Contributor

    Fred Cole: Actually, they’re a technology phase I just skipped over. I was an early cord cutter and an early Roku adopter.

    I had a TiVo in 2000; changed everything. I used a WD Roku-type box for a while, because it could read and play anything on the NAS, which was sweet. But the device’s interface was wretched. Now the AppleTV serves the same function, since you can run Plex and VLC on it. A golden age, I say.

    • #10
    • January 26, 2016, at 7:37 PM PDT
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  11. Fred Cole Member

    James Lileks:A golden age, I say.

    You’re get no argument with me about that.

    • #11
    • January 26, 2016, at 8:23 PM PDT
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  12. Mister Dog Coolidge

    I find my local rag’s endorsements to be very helpful. Whatever candidate or position they recommend I vote against.

    • #12
    • January 26, 2016, at 10:53 PM PDT
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  13. Dex Quire Member

    James Lileks wrote: Dex, I’m an online reader for most things,

    James — I was kidding! You’re James Lileks creator of some of the coolest sites on the web and writer extraordinaire! I’ve been reading you (online) for what? – about 13 years now….you must have just had a tiny slice of amnesia – it’s my privilege to remind you of who you are….

    • #13
    • January 26, 2016, at 10:58 PM PDT
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