No Endoresments Here

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

So – finally -- it's almost over. The longest, most expensive and in many ways ugliest political campaign season most of us have ever seen.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote, or even talk about how I voted.

I figure that's not why they lend me this little niche on the radio every week. Or at least, that's how I choose not to use it.

The way I see it, my vote isn't any smarter or more precious than anyone else's. And I don't especially enjoy trying to be a pundit.

So you'll get no endorsements from me.

Of course, journalists do have opinions. But in the throes of campaign passion, we're still the participants in the process who are the most likely to go against our own biases to report a story, analyze overheated rhetoric or predict winners and losers.

You think Obama partisans are going to start complimenting Sarah Palin's charisma? Or she'll concede that no, Obama isn't the communist, Muslim-loving Israel-hater depicted in her side's more desperate emails?

That's not going to happen.

It's only after the election energy has been spent and emotions subside that the more honest players on both sides will offer mea culpas for their excesses.

But endorsements have value. Even though candidates always tell reporters that endorsements don't matter, voters like being told who's voting which way.

It helps them create order out of a long, confusing ballot. And not many ballots are more complex than this one.

Here in LA, the changing media scene has altered the kinds of political endorsements that are available to voters.

More bloggers than ever are giving their opinions, and that probably helps some voters make the call.

This year the LA Times decided, in a bid to recapture some of its former relevancy, that it would endorse for president for the first time since 1972.

Back then, the paper urged a vote for Richard Nixon over George McGovern, then got out of the endorsement business.

This year The Times went for Obama, which made some McCain fans roll their eyes and mutter “big surprise.” For the record, it was the first time in its history that the LA Times endorsed a Democrat for president.

The editorial-page editor said in a blog post that he has no idea who owner Sam Zell likes for president -- and didn't ask.

He explained that the decision was made solely by the editorial board, a pretentious name for what is essentially the staff editorial writers and the publisher.

Now, it's hard to imagine anyone deciding between Obama and McCain based on an LA Times editorial.

More valuable to voters is the paper's endorsement on complicated propositions where the advertising seeks -- by design -- to only confuse the issues and strategically mislead.

It helps also in obscure races like those for judgeships, which get almost no news and blog coverage outside of the legal press. The Times, I believe, interviews every candidate for judge who is willing.

Same with candidates for the local community college board.

Trust me, you and I wouldn't want to do that.

The dearth of detailed reporting on these local races is another reason it's disappointing that the LA Weekly gave up its tradition of making endorsements.

The weekly's new Arizona-based ownership has a policy against the papers in its chain endorsing – though, oddly, it doesn't seem to mind editors and writers playing favorites in news stories.

The LA Weekly's comprehensive aggregation of endorsements used to give the city's left a quick summary of how to vote – and also was a reliable guide for conservatives to see who and what to vote against.

Now we voters have to do the work ourselves.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.