To Our Readers: AJC takes new approach on election

After listening carefully to readers and thinking deeply about the modern role of a newspaper in elections, the AJC Editorial Board is taking a new approach to election coverage, beginning with this November’s elections.

Going forward, our board will use its unique position to work for readers in pursuing with candidates the issues that are critical to the future of our community. The board will provide readers with clear, concise information about candidates’ positions and records. The AJC will no longer endorse political candidates.

For the Atlanta mayor’s race, we will publish highlights of that information on the Oct. 25 newspaper editorial page. It will also appear on ajc.com.

We have heard from readers — and we agree — that you don’t need us to tell you how to vote. What readers tell us they need is information on who the candidates are, what they have done and what they want to do in the new job.

Please know that we are not moving away at all from our important role of informing voters. On the AJC’s news pages, we have just completed a series of news profiles of all the mayoral candidates. Currently, we are in the middle of “The Atlanta Project,” a seven-part series examining the big challenges facing the new mayor. Our online voter guide, which we run in conjunction with the League of Women Voters of Georgia, provides detailed information, in the candidates’ own voices.

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We want AJC readers to be as informed as possible, and this work on the editorial page will provide additional insight into the key candidates’ vision for the future and how they would tackle big issues.

We understand this new approach is a significant change, and we did not arrive at this decision lightly.

Since the early days, U.S. newspapers have put their stamp of approval — or disapproval — on political candidates during election seasons. It’s a system that goes back to days when cities had many newspapers, each with very clear political agendas. For example, the Atlanta Constitution was started in 1868, with a very clear position of ending federal military rule in the South and returning to “constitutional” government.

That world has changed, steadily and more rapidly in recent years. We see our role now as providing you with information to help you make decisions — and not trying to make them for you. This is consistent with our move earlier this year to make the editorial pages more balanced — offering a wide array of opinions.

At that time, we changed the focus on our institutional editorials. Instead of regularly opining on issues of the day, we are using the newspaper voice — through the weekly editorials — to push for progress in our community. That initiative, “Atlanta Forward,” examines key issues facing the Atlanta metro area and the state of Georgia. The keystones of “Atlanta Forward” provide a sound base for us to examine candidates about how they would address the biggest challenges. Those issues are:

● Transportation: How to resolve Atlanta’s crippling congestion and issues around Georgia related to efficiently moving people and goods.

● Economy: How can we best position our state to move forward out of this recession.

● Health care: It’s a critical question for companies, consumers and government.

● Regional cooperation: How can we best align governments to solve our problems in the most-effective manner.

● Quality of life: We need water to drink and streets that are safe, among other things.

● Education: In an increasingly rugged global economic competition for jobs and prosperity, Georgia must field school graduates who are prepared for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

We believe providing information is the best service the AJC can provide to help readers build their own opinions on candidates.

Thanks for your support of the AJC and ajc.com. If you have thoughts on endorsements, please send them to insideajc@ajc.com.

The Editorial Board

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