Home Media Dying Richmond Times-Dispatch Announces It Will Stop Making Endorsements, Blames…Its Customers

Dying Richmond Times-Dispatch Announces It Will Stop Making Endorsements, Blames…Its Customers

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The Republican Times-Disgrace Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) editorials are always a hoot, if you like right-wing drivel that is. But today’s column by RTD Publisher Tom Silvestri (“Why 2018 will be the last year the RTD makes editorial endorsements”) is in a league of its own – and not in a good way! According to Silvestri, the upcoming midterm elections will mark the final time that the RTD will make political endorsements. Yeah, I know, we’re all going to miss the RTD brilliant arguments for why we should vote for Jerry Kilgore (R) in 2005, Bob McDonnell (R)  in 2009, Enron Ed Gillespie (R) in 2017, Ronald Reagan (R), George HW Bush (R), Bob Dole (R), George W. Bush (R), John McCain (R), Mitt Romney (R), Gary Johnson (R/L) for president, and of course George “Felix Macacawitz” Allen over Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate in 2012. OK, maybe not. Seriously, about the only Republican the RTD hasn’t endorsed is far-right extremist Ken Cuccinelli for governor in 2013; the RTD endorsed nobody that year.

Well now, the RTD is going to make a habit of not endorsing anybody, following this year’s endorsements, and for one I will not miss them at all. In fact, I’d argue that they should get rid of their editorial page completely, save themselves some money, and stop alienating potential/actual readers. Although, come to think of it, alienating potential/actual readers is what the RTD just did with its editorial announcing that it will no longer be making political endorsements. Why do I say that? Because, basically, the main reasoning the RTD gave for ditching political endorsements is that its readers are idiots, basically. Check it out:

  • No matter how many times we explain that Editorial and News are separate, the side that didn’t win the endorsement often takes out its frustration on our reporters.”
  • “…we have reached the point where it seems that on some days a majority of our market doesn’t even understand the Editorial Page’s role — or, in a broader sense, how newspapers operate or how they do the work of informing readers.”

And here I could have sworn that in business, the #1 rule was “the customer is always right.” But for the RTD, apparently it’s more like “the customers are dumbasses who can’t understand that editorial and news are separate, how newspapers operate etc.” And the RTD wonders why it’s been losing readers? Speaking of which, let’s look at a few daily circulation numbers to see how the RTD’s been doing in recent years:

2004: 191,732
2005: 188,893
2006: 186,296
2007: 186,441
2008: 175,265
2009: 160,886
2010: 125,011
2011: 115,431
2012: 108,559
2013: 102,586
Current: 86,219 (source: Cision)

So yeah, given that the RTD’s daily circulation has fallen by around half over the past decade, and given that some of their former employees at the Virginia Mercury just wrote an article called “Death by a thousand cuts: Newsroom staffing at Virginia’s biggest papers cut nearly in half since 2010,” they really might want to rethink their editorial policy of: a) having a right-wing editorial page that is wildly out of sync with its (shrinking) Richmond-area readership; b) insulting their readers by claiming they’re too stupid to understand what the RTD is doing (so therefore the RTD is going to take its political editorial ball and go home).

P.S. Meanwhile, the Tronc-owned Daily Press this morning opined as to why it’s soooo important that they DO make political endorsements! According to the Daily Press, in fact, they would not “be doing that job [of offer[ing] informed opinions on a wide variety of issues that affect our region] if we failed to weigh in on the candidates for these offices.” The Daily Press then explains its “fiscally conservative” and “promote business” political philosophy, which kind of gives you an idea for where they’re coming from…”Chamber of Commerce Republican,” basically. Keep that in mind when the Daily Press does end up endorsing.