Historically, newspaper editorial boards across the country have offered recommendations to their readership as to who they believe is best fit to represent and serve their communities. The Kentucky New Era has participated in this practice for some time.

This year, the New Era is breaking from that tradition. This newspaper's masthead will not endorse a candidate for governor, nor other statewide and local offices. We will, however, endorse the act of voting and encourage every registered voter in Christian, Todd and Trigg counties to reject voter apathy and make their voices heard at the polls on Election Day.

Some argue that these endorsements are part of a paper's duty to facilitate dialogue in its community and promote participation. We believe that we continue to serve our mission of doing just that without having the audacity to think we should tell you who to vote for.

We have three principled reasons for no longer offering political endorsements.

First, any endorsement by this organization must be objective.

For a candidate endorsement to fit that bill, it would also need to be penned by an independent editorial board. The reality is, in communities the size of ours, newspapers do not employ teams of journalists that specialize only in opinion writing. That means several of our editorial board members are also tasked with reporting the news day in and day out.

Those employed to report on fact should not conflate their duties by opinioning on the subjects of their reporting. We must present the facts fairly and accurately, and let the community decide what they choose to do with that information.

It is appropriate to praise or criticize ideas and policy, but choosing sides in a zero-sum contest of personalities is not the best use of our resources nor is it the best service we can offer our audience.

From time to time individuals on our team not directly involved in reporting on a matter may offer a personal opinion in the form of a column, but that is not to be confused with the organization's official editorial stance.

For example, earlier this year our publisher penned a column under his byline to express support for the nickel tax that would benefit Christian County Public Schools. While others at the newspaper may agree with this position, this piece expressed his opinion alone, not that of the newspaper's editorial board.

Second, we believe that a newspaper's editorial stance should always provide solutions to issues that affect the community that it serves.

Taking sides in what amounts to be a popularity contest in many cases is not a solution. Doing so alienates a significant portion of our audience whose personal convictions may differ from those of our team of editors. This further breaks down any efforts in our community to bridge the gap between those who hold different ideas. That does not serve our mission to connect people with information, ideas and each other so that they can make a difference in our community.

Conversely, many readers often confuse opinion and editorial content with news content. While we work tirelessly to educate our readership while also presenting ideas and opinions that are different from our own -- a newspaper's candidate endorsement days before an election after a long campaign season is not likely to change any voter's mind.

Instead, we choose to encourage participation in the political process while not seeking to influence the action you take in the voting booth.

Finally, we prefer our opinions page to present a mix of commentary -- especially that which challenges our own. As such, we welcome letters to the editor to publish in our Voice of the People segment. Guest columns are encouraged to reflect on issues that are on the minds of local readers. Our intent is for the content published on this page to be clear, frank and positive in the sense that it provides solutions as opposed to criticism only.

This newspaper will continue to hold power to account. We will seek the truth in every matter and publish the facts for the community to make informed decisions. We will continue to present a mix of opinions and provide a vehicle for residents to offer their commentary on issues of local interest.

We believe we can and will do all of that without attempting to tell you who to vote for five days before an election.

You have a voice, but no one can hear it if you do not show up to vote.

And after you vote, resist the urge to disengage until the next election. Keep studying those in power that are given the privilege to represent you and your interests. Be active in the discussions that shape your local community, state and national governments.

Educated discussion, civil discourse, is the most powerful and persuasive means to guide those whom you've chosen to be your voice after Election Day. You don't need the New Era's endorsement to tell you that.

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