To Our Readers: Why we are not endorsing in the primary

Monitor editor
Published: 2/2/2020 6:00:28 AM

Around this weekend every four years, the Monitor has published its candidate endorsements ahead of the presidential primary. That voter recommendation has always been the culmination of months of candidate interviews, and often times tense internal debate.

This summer, facing the realities of a far smaller staff than in primaries past, we decided the tremendous investment in time needed by our editorial board to meet individually with all the candidates in both parties would be more wisely spent elsewhere. So we decided we would not endorse primary candidates in 2020.

This was not an easy decision, but it was one guided by what we see as our central mission in our communities. In a world where opinions increasingly come from all directions, our value, we believe, is in providing our readers with local journalism rooted in solid reporting.

Our decision is indicative of the changes happening across our industry. With fewer resources, we’ve had to make some hard choices, both in coverage and philosophy.

Though we won’t offer an endorsement, that doesn’t mean we’ve ceased reporting on the primary. We’ve just chosen to go about it in a different way. Five years ago, the Monitor staff set out to cover the 2016 primary the way we always had. On the news side, we assigned each of our nine reporters to specific candidates. Accompanied by a photographer, our reporters would follow those Republican and Democratic hopefuls across the region through the primary, often spending a full day on the campaign trail.

The Monitor has invested less staff reporting time in the run-up to 2020. Instead, we hired veteran freelance political reporter Paul Steinhauser, a former CNN staffer whose work also appears on Fox News, Seacoast Online and elsewhere. Steinhauser serves as our eyes and ears at events across the state, and his Monitor reporting includes his weekly “On The Trail” roundup on Primary 2020 news. His work has allowed our staff to focus more closely on local coverage, from area school districts to developments in the State House. We believe that’s where our readers need us to be.

We’ve also relied more heavily on reporting from the Associated Press’s team of national writers, who quite often turn their focus to New Hampshire.

Our news staff, nonetheless, is gearing up for the big day, and they are currently hard at work reporting on leading issues facing New Hampshire voters in the Democratic primary. Our goal in these reports, which will start appearing this week, is to give New Hampshire voters a better understanding of how the candidates differ along key issues we’ve identified to be of most importance here in the Granite State. We are not writing issue advances for the Republican primary considering President Donald Trump’s win here is certain.

And, as in primaries past, we’ll be working late into the night on Feb. 11 to report on the happenings of Primary Day. We’ll be at the local polls speaking with voters. We’ll be at campaign events later in the day. And we’ll be getting those election returns that will tell you how your town or city voted.

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