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In defense of reporters.

A HEADLINE--THE Blame Game Begins--in last week's issue aired more charges that the press had been biased during the recent campaign. This time it was from the Perot camp. We have said before that, with all three sides leveling the same charges against the press at different times, it ought to prove the press was pretty evenhanded in its treatment of the candidates.

Jim Squires, Perot's spokesman, asserted the press as a whole did not grasp the fact that "Perot was not so much a candidate as the leader of a crusade." If they were clairvoyant enough to read that into Perot's activities, which he didn't categorize in that way, isn't that asking newspeople to be advocates--something they are not supposed to be?

Now comes a survey of 1,400 journalists nationwide, paid for by the Freedom Forum, reporting that 44% of them say they identify themselves as Democrats, 16% say they are Republicans and 34% see themselves as politically independent. News stories about the survey inevitably noted the charges of news media critics who say that affects the fairness of news coverage. The charge assumes journalists are incapable of being fair and accurate, which We think is a slander on the profession.

The natural progression of this sort of measurement is to ask reporters on Capitol Hill whether they are for or against proposed legislation about which they write. How do you stand on conservation? What do you feel about gun control? Abortion ? Are you for or against this appointee to high office ?

Apply the questions to reporters covering city hall or the state capital. You turn up a lot of meaningless trivia. We think that is what the survey of their political sympathies has shown.

Are journalists supposed to be intellectual eunuchs without opinions or feelings on major issues? We don't think so. We believe it is intellectually probable that the vast majority of journalists in this country do their honest best to report what they see and hear as factually and fairly as they know how without injecting personal opinions.

That is the hallmark of a true journalist who is proud of his profession.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Duncan McIntosh Company, Inc.
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Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 28, 1992
Words:357
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