Associated Students of the University of Nevada elections are this Wednesday and Thursday. The online voting caps off a month of campaigns, replete with all the campaign staples — signs, buttons, and debates as far as the eye can see.
Traditionally, the Nevada Sagebrush endorses candidates for ASUN president and vice president. This year, we’ve decided to buck tradition. Upon reflection, we can find no good reason why our student newspaper should endorse candidates. The arguments used by city-level newspapers simply do not apply at the university level.
If you look at the organizational structure of most newspapers, there are two distinct parts: the newsroom, which produces all the news content, and the editorial board, which produces op-eds and other editorial content. These two entities never communicate with each other, and when candidate endorsement happens, a newsroom will often be kept in the dark until moments before the endorsement is made public.
This is a luxury our paper, which employs fewer than 10 people as actual content-producers, cannot afford. We do have an opinion editor, who acts as a kind of one-man editorial board, editing and curating op-ed content week in and week out. Additionally, staff editorials are written by either the editor-in-chief or the managing editor, neither of whom generally produce news content.
However, there isn’t the kind of editorial separation found in traditional newsrooms. There simply can’t be. It is impossible to keep news staff in the dark when it comes to editorial content, and on any given week there’s no guarantee of knowing or not-knowing what is and is not an editorial position of the paper.
At that point, it becomes a credibility issue. By and large, The Nevada Sagebrush is the only organization that will report on the goings-on at ASUN. Because of this, we find it of paramount importance to maintain our editorial independence from ASUN wherever and whenever we can.
When we endorse a candidate, we chip away just a little bit at that independence. While we are skeptical of the total influence our endorsement might have on the race (especially a race that would, at best, have 20 percent turnout), we’re still choosing a side. After 20-odd weeks of independent reporting, we hang up that hat for a week and throw our voice to the chorus.
But why? History? Tradition? These reasons just aren’t good enough.
Finally, we’d like to note that this has nothing to do with any of the candidates currently running for office. Our decision not to endorse is a purely philosophical decision, and one that was a long time in the making.