The New York Times yesterday endorsed Walter F. Mondale, citing President Reagan's "dangerous" diplomacy. The Chicago Tribune backed Reagan, saying he would reduce federal intrusion into everyday life, but expressing misgivings about "his air-headed rhetoric" on arms control and foreign policy.

The newspapers were among many that endorsed presidential candidates in their Sunday editions.

Mondale also was endorsed by the Arkansas Gazette, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Detroit Free Press, The Milwaukee Journal, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune and the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal.

The Washington Post endorsed Mondale in today's editions.

Other papers endorsing Reagan were the New York Daily News, the San Francisco Examiner, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, The Indianapolis Star, the Omaha World-Herald, The Oregonian of Portland, the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, The Sunday Oklahoman of Oklahoma City, the Clarion Ledger-Jackson Daily News of Jackson, Miss., the News American of Baltimore, The Miami Herald and the Albuquerque Journal.

The Baltimore Sun said it will endorse no one this year.

At least one endorsement touched off a public dispute within an editorial board. The Miami Herald, "with reservations," endorsed Reagan, but it also published a column by editor Jim Hampton saying that most of the editorial board wanted to recommend Mondale. Hampton said the Reagan endorsement "represents Publisher Dick Capen's exercising of his authority to override the board's collegial decisions."

The Chicago Tribune said that despite its misgivings about Reagan's foreign and domestic policies, it backed Reagan because his philosophy "will result in less government growth and less government intrusion into the the lives of citizens . . . than would Walter Mondale's."

But The Tribune said Reagan's "refusal to accept the linkage between the federal deficit and economic instability is threatening to bankrupt America and severely damage the free world economy."

Reagan's "ignorance about the Soviet Union and his air-headed rhetoric on the issues of foreign policy and arms control have reached the limit of tolerance and have become an embarrassment . . . and a danger," the newspaper said.

The New York Times said millions of Americans had been thrown out of work in payment for economic recovery. The paper also said that "much of the rest of his domestic program is repugnant."

"Finally, and most important, because Mr. Reagan's diplomacy, mostly ineffective, has also been dangerous," The Times said.

The New York Daily News backed Reagan, giving the administration credit for a stronger economy and for bolstering the country's defense. "By almost all standards, we are better off than we were four years ago," the Daily News said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called the Reagan administration one of "racism with a smile." It endorsed Mondale, but said there were "grave questions" about Geraldine A. Ferraro's vice-presidential candidacy.

The paper cited her financial records and alluded to published reports -- denied by Ferraro -- alleging her husband, John A. Zaccaro, had financial and business connections with organized-crime figures.

The St. Petersburg Times, in backing Mondale, said the former vice president was "a wiser and more responsible leader" than Reagan.

Citing Mondale's "pathetic lack of power to inspire," The San Francisco Examiner endorsed Reagan. The Indianapolis Star, endorsing Reagan, asked, "Is the nation better off? Is the world safer? We think that for most people -- clearly not all, but for most -- the answer will be 'yes.' "

The Oregonian of Portland said that although the risks of Reagan's economic policies "are high," the paper did not want to see the most successful economic program "since the mid-1960s" abandoned.