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[RRND] 06/30 -- The editorial policy, it is a'changin'

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  • Terry L Parker
    Rational Review News Digest ... Published Monday-Friday, except for holidays Made possible by the generous support of our readers
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2006
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      Rational Review News Digest
      Published Monday-Friday, except for holidays
      Made possible by the generous support of our readers

      Produced in cooperation with
      the International Society for Individual Liberty

      Volume IV, Issue #930
      Friday, June 30th, 2006
      Email Circulation 2,007

      Dear readers,

      It's "web-only Friday" (probably the last for awhile -- I wanted to
      pump the ISIL scholarship fund through the end of June) at RRND. Check
      out the day's news and commentary at:


      So, here's the pump: Help ISIL bring deserving students/budding
      freedom activists from around the world to Prague for the 25th World
      Freedom Summit next month ... er, week!


      And now, for something completely different:


      Rational Review News Digest was preparing to begin its fourth month of
      publication when the US commenced its war on Iraq. At about that time,
      our editorial board settled unanimously (that's the way we do
      everything here) on a policy of featuring, as the day's "top news
      story," casualties in America's foreign military folly until such time
      as the war ended.

      Yesterday, the board (once again unanimously) changed that policy. As
      publisher, I believe that I owe our readers a full explanation of the

      Over the last three years, we've received a number of complaints from
      readers about the policy. Most of those complaints have not been
      motivated by pro-war sentiment, but rather by one of two things:

      * The fact that reading about war casualties as the first order of
      daily business is, frankly, a downer; and

      * The perception that RRND (and now Freedom News Daily) is playing the
      "if it bleeds, it leads" hype game and choosing to spotlight negativity.

      I'll dispose of the second complaint first: No, that's not what it's
      been about. We would much rather have had top headlines like
      "Libertarian sweeps electoral college" and "Income tax eliminated!" Of
      the three exceptions to our policy that I recall, two were indeed
      negative and bloody (the Asian tsunami and Katrina); one was just
      straight big news (the 2004 US presidential election results -- okay,
      those were negative and bloody too, but they were bona fide important

      As to the first, I agree. However, our judgment was that, however
      depressing casualty statistics are, it was our duty to our readers to
      spotlight the most important public policy issue of the day, and that
      the war was that issue and would continue to be that issue. We -- or
      at least I -- still believe that.

      But yes, those numbers ARE a downer. Nobody knows that better than the
      guy who has to track them down every morning -- me. Over the last
      three years, I've gone from righteous outrage at the carnage, to a
      state of daily dread at the prospect of looking to see what happened
      in Iraq overnight, to ... not exactly apathy, but sheer tiredness. The
      other editors seem to have experienced this same progression. If we've
      done so, it's not unreasonable to speculate that our readers have as well.

      Awhile back, we began running the commentary, rather than news,
      headlines as the subject header for the daily email edition of FND,
      while keeping the news atop RRND, but we've been thinking the issue
      over ever since, and here's what we've come up with:

      * The war and its costs -- political, economic and most of all of raw
      human life -- are the dominant color in the backdrop against which we
      publish, and they will continue to be. We will continue to cover the
      stories, and we will continue to feature them.

      * As a matter of fact, we will now feature them 24/7, in the form of
      the Iraq Body Count tabulation of civilian casualties and
      AntiWar.Com's military casualties counter, both of which will appear
      at the top of the sidebar columns of RRND and FND (and as a text bloc
      in our email editions).

      * We will also continue to run news stories related to the casualties.
      When those stories merit the "top slot," they'll get it.


      I am no longer bound to an editorial policy REQUIRING those stories to
      "top the feed" every day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. From here
      on out, when I decide that another story is the most important story
      of the day -- even versus one daily installment of the most important
      ongoing story of the era in which we live -- it will top the bill.

      Although supporters of the previous policy have not been especially
      vocal about it, we recognize that this change may smack to some of
      compromise or even capitulation. We don't see it that way, but if you
      do, click on "comment" (in the web editions) or drop me a line at info
      at rationalreview.com. Although we did not take this decision lightly
      and are unlikely to reverse it having taken it, your opinion is valued
      and we'd like to hear it.

      Yours in liberty,
      Tom Knapp
      Rational Review

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      Civilian Casualties in Iraq: Min - 38,761 ... Max - 43,189
      (source: iraqbodycount.org)

      American Military Deaths in Iraq: 2,529
      (source: www.antiwar.com/casualties/)

      RRND is published every weekday except on holidays. Forward freely.

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      Thomas L. Knapp ..... Publisher
      Mary Lou Seymour .... Editor
      Steve Trinward ...... Editor
      R. Lee Wrights ...... Editor

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