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September 19, 2008
We asked for it. We got it. In the past couple of issues, I invited your thoughts on matters of fairness and objectivity in the media—and how you thought U.S. News was doing on those fronts. So far I've gotten about a thousand E-mails, letters, and online comments, with more coming in.
The good news is that many of you appreciated how we work to provide fair-minded reporting and analysis. A lot of you said you've dropped other publications because you no longer trust them. The criticisms of us were civil and constructive. But I sure got an earful. As one reader wrote after a kind intro: "That was the sugar, now for the medicine." Or a little more pointedly: "I would suggest that when you get home you shorten your 'happy hour' and stop smoking what you are smoking."
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September 5, 2008
ST. PAUL, MINN.—As one of the most contentious, fascinating, and important presidential elections in history swings into high gear, the role of the media is the subject of much discussion—some of it pretty heated. Here at the Republican National Convention, many supporters of John McCain have started to beat on the media like a drum, accusing some major institutions of favoring Barack Obama. There may be some truth to that, though in most cases I suspect it's more careless than calculated. Of course, the Obama folks have been happy to play the same tune when it suits them.
But whatever our colleagues are up to, at U.S. News we mean it when we say we play it straight. We honestly don't have a stake in who wins. As a magazine, we won't endorse, as has been our practice. Our job is to use our reporting skills and judgment to help you make sense of what's going on. We do have commentators who are more free to express opinions, and our writers often take an analytical approach. But there is a big difference between saying, "That was a great speech," and explaining why, based on some objective criteria, it was an effective speech. Pressing candidates on the validity of their policies is not the same thing as picking sides. Concluding that the numbers don't add up or the promises are empty can be a fact.