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Public Editor Public editor: Why newspapers endorse political candidates

The Globe and Mail’s editorial board has endorsed John Tory for mayor of Toronto.

Mark Blinch/The Globe and Mail

On Saturday, The Globe and Mail's editorial board endorsed John Tory as the next mayor of Toronto.

That led to a few questions from readers about the endorsement that I will try to answer:

1. Why endorse anyone?

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Every day the editorial board writes in favour of or against public policies. The board members' job is to study the issues behind the news articles and make reasoned argument about where government and society should be headed. Many English-language newspapers do this to advocate for improvements they want to see and as a service to readers. At The Globe, as with other newspapers, the view expressed is that of the newspaper rather than the individual writers and the aim is to have a consistent voice for the paper.

2. Who makes the decision? The editor, the publisher or the editorial board?

The decision is ultimately up to the editor-in-chief. Editorial Page Editor Tony Keller and his staff report to the editor-in-chief.

3. Why did Marcus Gee, The Globe's municipal columnist, praise Olivia Chow just before the paper endorsed Mr. Tory?

"That's so crazy, because there's this other Globe article stating how Olivia Chow was the fiscally responsible candidate," a reader said on Twitter.

Rather than crazy, it shows that papers encourage a diversity of opinion. Columnists work independently from The Globe's editorial voice and are free to argue for or against any candidate or policy.

It's interesting to note that in the last municipal election, two papers endorsed George Smitherman (The Globe and the Toronto Star) and two endorsed Rob Ford (the Sun and the National Post).

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So far, Mr. Tory has been backed by The Globe and the Sun, with the two other papers to come this week. Torontoist has backed Ms. Chow.

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