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DI is too liberal, too conservative

BY ADAM B SULLIVAN | OCTOBER 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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Caucus season is likely the best time to work for a daily newspaper in Iowa.

There's plenty of news, web hits are high, and the national media are taking cues from us.

However, it's also one of the most stressful times to be the editor of an Iowa news organization. In addition to the daily newsroom frenzy, reporting on presidential politics always brings with it constant allegations of bias. You can't please everyone, and sometimes you can't please anyone; some of the complaints I get say The Daily Iowan is pro-Republican or too conservative and a little more than half the complaints I get say we're being too pro-Obama or too liberal.

I think if both sides think you're against them, you're probably doing a good job.

For instance, we recently reported that local officials are worried about the implications of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's deficit-cutting plan. In typical fashion, Paulites lit up our comment board with a few dozen comments criticizing us for not giving Paul a fair shake.

"Just another example of bad reporting in the media," commenter Roger Glas wrote.

And commenter Francis Smith chimed in saying, "There is a simple way to fix the media slant: Look at the side line for whom has advertised with the media that distorts the news and make a simple note of that company. Then, be sure to go out of your way to either buy from their competition if you need the product or avoid them all together. It will not take long for the advertisers to realize that by advertising on the distorted media's site it will cause more harm than good, and they will drop their advertising. If the media want's to distort the truth, let them pay for it out of their own pockets."

I don't think our piece took sides. We gave the skeptical housing officials some space to complain but also gave Paul some space to rebut. We reported the amount of money the city gets from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — which Paul would eliminate — but the reporter didn't say whether losing those funds was good or bad.

And earlier this fall, UI junior Patrick Brown wrote a letter to the editor saying the paper's bias is clearly liberal.

"When this is pooled together, it becomes clear that the DI has a strong liberal bias. That's all right; the paper generally doesn't try to hide it and is mostly civil about it, and I can accept that," Brown wrote.

Others, though, say we lean to the right at the DI.

For instance, UI junior Max Johnson wrote on our Opinions page a couple months ago criticizing me for disclosing my support for a Republican in 2008.

"I was taken aback when reading Adam B Sullivan's 'guest' opinion' 'Taking Tips from President Rudy Giuliani' … I was most surprised at the admission of your editor-in-chief donating to and caucusing for Rudy Giuliani," Johnson wrote.

And others still applaud us for our fair commentary on the Paul campaign.

"It's not often I come across an article (blog or otherwise) that is fair and unbiased. I commend the author, and give props on his maturity and objectivity,"commenter NLanigan wrote on a column this month.

On the same story, commenter Jay Brooks offered, "Thank you for being an equal, unbiased, and open-minded source of news reporting."

So the DI has a liberal slant but the editor needs to hush about being a Republican. The DI marginalizes one candidate's ideology but also gives him uniquely unbiased attention.

Sounds like we're doing a pretty good job.


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