The Penultimate Word


While it would have been ideal if all three Greenwich papers endorsed my favorite local candidate, Fred Camillo, I got the next best thing.  The one paper which did not endorse Fred fully, gave me and a few others enough time to have published in their paper rebuttals to their editorial.   

As a partisan I was pleased at the tactical advantage we have, because our opponent’s supporters are not able to rebut the pro-Fred editorials. But having been on the receiving end, I know the other camp’s frustration. Last minute editorial endorsements have been a peeve of mine for years now. Indeed this year, early in the election season I dropped the editors an email urging them to endorse BEFORE their cut-off for readers’ letters in response. I contend it is the right thing to do.

In the past the editors have contended “we are understaffed” which holds water this year for the local daily where corporate cuts have resulted in two people handling all editorials and letters for three cities. But the weeklies are covering only Greenwich, where the contested races were few this year. Then there is the claim that scheduling so many candidate interviews is a logistical nightmare. Maybe that was true in years past, but this year there were only three contested races in Greenwich. I find it hard to accept that the papers couldn’t schedule six editorial board meetings with sufficient time to publish their endorsement with even a small window for rebuttal.

The argument is also made that the papers wait until the very end to gain as much knowledge about the candidates as possible. Yet, an estimated 13 million people in the nation have already cast early ballots. Locally hundreds of people have voted already by absentee ballot. Those voters had enough information to make a choice. Perhaps the papers believe those voters’ decisions are not fully informed (in which case the papers should oppose early voting), or perhaps they believe those early voters don’t deserve the benefit of knowing a newspaper’s stance on the election before casting their early ballot.

Could it possibly be that the newspapers wait until the last minute because they are not satisfied with having only the penultimate word — settling for nothing less than the last word?

That is something readers on don’t have to worry about. With the ability for readers to instantly post a comment to a blog, in our case the last word is not monopolized by the media. This is another reason that newspapers may be the wave of the past.