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On being fair

One other off-topic item that I saw over the weekend.

Yes, after the Rising Star awards, which I will try to get around to posting about today, but after the Rising Star awards, I took a few days off. So I'm back to it now. And I don't know if anybody else finds this to be true, but the short breaks -- taking a few days off -- just doesn't seem to work as well as when I just take a week off. I'm going on a cruise with my family over Thanksgiving and I will be completely out of touch. But on these short trips, it is almost hard to detach. Because you're 'only gone for a day,' you still connect to e-mail and voice mail.

Anyway, this isn't a government IT thing, but it is often frustrating when the press is just unfair. We try very hard to be fair to everybody when we are covering a story. I tell our reporters that we can't always promise people that they will like everything we write, because that isn't our job. But we can promise them that we will be fair. So when you see one of the 'big guys' -- an organization that you know, respect and trust -- fall short of that, it is disappointing and disheartening. And I think this item from Slate.com's Today's Papers over the weekend captured it:

Below the fold, the WP runs a pretty by-the-numbers feature on the challenges facing House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. The analysis of Hastert's rise to power, his accomplishments, and management style are all fine. But then there's this line: "He looks like a cross between actor Wilford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt." TP would absolutely love to know what thought process led the WP's editors to believe that comparing Hastert to a Star Wars villain was appropriate in what is ostensibly an evenhanded story. Yes, the man is overweight. There's a picture of him next to the article, lest you doubt it. So, how does making fun of his appearance give a (no pun intended) fuller picture of the man? And in the age of partisan media, what does it do to the credibility of the story?


FCW was subject of a similar kind of thing earlier this year when the LAT called us an "obscure trade journal."

As I went on to say in our Buzz of the Week -- which I can't find on our site -- these are just judgement calls and they don't belong in objective reporting. One person's Jabba is another person's Teddy Bear. Why make the reference? It doesn't add to the story. In fact, it deflects from any relevent analysis that the story tried to make.

I hope if we do something like that, you'll call us on it -- and call me or e-mail us and let us know.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Oct 18, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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