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Newspapers, Politics and Critical Thinking

Washington and Lee senior Michael McGuire, who had an internship with El Nuevo Herald this summer, wrote an op-ed for Editor & Publisher’s “Critical Thinking” series this month.

Critical Thinking poses a question about some aspect of journalism and then asks a journalism student and an industry professional to offer their views.

In the Aug. 16 edition, Michael and Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page editor Elizabeth Sullivan both responded to the question “Should Newspapers Make Political Endorsements?”

Michael’s answer, based in part on his experiences with El Nuevo Herald, was that no, they shouldn’t.

He concluded: “Editors don’t want my stories to have a political leaning. And if they think endorsing a politician on the opinion page won’t taint my stories just the same, they’re wrong.”

Ms. Sullivan took the other position, arguing that “olitical endorsements — done right — give voters insight and inside knowledge they might not otherwise have…”

Michael is a double major in journalism and Spanish. He won the Todd Smith Fellowship, which supports the internship with El Nuevo Herald, one of the country’s premier Spanish-language newspapers. The fellowship  memorializes Todd ’82, a talented and devoted journalist who was brutally murdered in Peru in 1989 by The Shining Path guerrillas and drug traffickers.  If you want to see the rest of Michael’s work from the summer (and can read Spanish), here is a link to his stories.