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8 major news outlets' presidential endorsements: A concise guide
Across the nation, editorial boards appear as divided over President Obama and Mitt Romney as the rest of us
The New Yorker, alongside The Columbus Dispatch and The Tampa Bay Times, are a few of the publications endorsing the re-election of President Obama.
The New Yorker, alongside The Columbus Dispatch and The Tampa Bay Times, are a few of the publications endorsing the re-election of President Obama.
Screen shot: newyorker.com
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he value of newspaper endorsements has always been open to debate. And they don't mean as much in today's fast-paced world of online news and opinionated bloggers as they did back "when 'the press' almost exclusively involved actual ink on paper," says Brad Knickerbocker at The Christian Science Monitor. But they're still important enough to political junkies to warrant blaring headlines, and the nation's newspapers are starting to weigh in on the battle between President Obama and his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney. Like voters, newspaper editorial boards are split pretty much down the middle, with six of the 100 most widely circulated newspapers that have announced endorsements so far siding with Obama, and five with Romney. Magazines are starting to get their two cents in, too. Here, a look at eight big endorsements:  

The publication: The New Yorker
The endorsement: Obama
The key quote: "The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney — a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity."
The context: "If you spell reelection with an umlaut," one GOP insider tells Politico, "odds are your endorsement will go for Obama."

The publication: Reno Gazette-Journal
The endorsement: Romney
The key quote: "It wasn't an easy decision. A recommendation against an incumbent can't be taken lightly... However, while [Obama] had to contend with a Republican Party that was determined to deny him a second term at any cost, Obama cannot avoid the consequences of poor decisions and misplaced priorities."
The context: "Somewhat offsetting the pro-Romney votes of the Gazette-Journal and the Las Vegas Review-Journal," says The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Sun has endorsed Obama for president, "taking a different direction than Nevada's two other largest newspapers" in this swing state.

The publication: Cleveland Plain-Dealer
The endorsement: Obama
The key quote: "Four years ago, this newspaper's editorial board enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama... our endorsement this year comes with less enthusiasm or optimism. Obama has changed — and it's more than gray hair. The unifier of 2008 now engages in relentless attacks on his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The big dreamer of 2008 offers little in the way of a second-term agenda. There is a world-weariness unseen four years ago."
The context: Obama won the backing of two of the three most important newspapers in this critical swing state, says Leigh Ann Caldwell at CBS News, but both — the Plain-Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal, "offered less-than-ringing support."

The publication: The Columbus Dispatch
The endorsement: Romney
The key quote: "Obama has failed. That is why Mitt Romney is the preferred choice for president. Romney's adult life has been spent turning around troubled private and public institutions."
The context: Both campaigns "rank Ohio as the most important swing state in the 2012 election," says Sahit Muja at Examiner.com. Picking up the Dispatch's endorsement makes the state's major endorsements a split decision, which is "very good news for Mitt Romney."

The publication: The Orlando Sentinel
The endorsement: Romney
The key quote: "Romney is not our ideal candidate for president. We've been turned off by his appeals to social conservatives and immigration extremists... But the core of Romney's campaign platform, his five-point plan, at least shows he understands that reviving the economy and repairing the government's balance sheet are imperative — now, not four years in the future."
The context: It's impressive that Romney "won over an editorial board that sided with Obama in 2008," says Domenico Montanaro at NBC News, and the fact that it's in a major swing state also helps. Plus, "the searing editorial reads like a gut punch to Obama."

The publication: The Tampa Bay Times
The endorsement: Obama
The key quote: "The recovery has proven more difficult than anyone imagined. But conditions would be far worse without the president's steady leadership. This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past. Without hesitation, The Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president."
The context: As in Ohio, the major newspapers in Florida are evenly divided. Obama managed to offset the sting of The Orlando Sentinel's switch by picking up the backing of The Tampa Bay Times, the Sunshine State's largest paper, says Dana Davidsen at CNN, backing up what the polls are saying in both crucial states — "the race is all tied up."

The publication: Houston Chronicle
The endorsement: Romney
The key quote: "The Chronicle's backing of Barack Obama in 2008 broke a 44-year string of endorsing Republican candidates for president. Like so many others, we were captivated by the Illinois senator's soaring rhetoric and energized by his promise to move American politics beyond partisan gridlock and into an era of hope and change. It hasn't happened."
The context: "President Barack Obama's policy toward NASA loomed large in determining this decision," says Mark Whittington at Examiner.com. "The Chronicle had endorsed Obama in 2008..." and it "accused the president of having an attitude toward the interests of Texas that 'occasionally bordered on contempt.'"

The publication: The Salt Lake Tribune
The endorsement: Obama
The key quote: "From his embrace of the party's radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: 'Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?'"
The context: "Newspaper endorsements have perhaps zero influence on the electorate. Heck, they may send people in the opposite direction. And Mitt is killing it with his fellow Mormons, judging by the polling," says David Gibson at Commonweal. "But it seems notable, if not striking, that the hometown newspaper of the Latter-day Saints cannot endorse the first LDS candidate for president in U.S. history."

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