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Time Magazine editor wants newspapers to do a better job pretending to be objective 2/21/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Endorsements.

Time Magazine’s managing editor Rick Stengel wants newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates. It’s not so that papers do a better job meeting their self-professed goal of being “objective,” but that they do a better job hiding the fact that they are not.

In his column, while deploring explicit endorsements, he supports his reporters’ efforts to express their points of view as “experts,” and to determine whether one candidate’s policies are more “practical” than another’s. But given that Time’s articles are about social policies upon which honest men, from far-left to far-right, can disagree, and his reporter/experts are monolithically center-left, these reporters will not be acting as experts delivering “the truth,” but as center-lefters validating center-left candidates. How is this different from endorsing candidates, other than being a much sneakier and more deceptive way to go about it?

Stengel swerves into the truth, without noticing it. He tells us that newspapers that endorse candidates “are undermining the very basis for their business, which is impartiality. It’s a recipe for having less influence, not more.” So, which will it be? Does he want newspapers to be impartial or does he want them to be influential, guiding us toward their center-left views? I cannot agree with him that it’s a “recipe” — it’s more like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.


1. Jay Oatway - 2/22/08

It’s the age old case of whether a media outlet feels it belongs to the Forth or the Fifth Estate. The Forth Estate has always had an agenda and always used its influence to affect politics. The Fifth Estate has always been critical of this.

Nothing new. Journalism history repeating itself.

2. reuben - 2/28/08

How do you define the fifth estate?

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