On Friday, we had a reader write to us, “I was just wondering if there was some way to convince you not to be such far right hyper-partisans or is that completely off the table?”
His message begs the question, is The Iowa Torch partisan?
It depends on what you mean by partisan.
On our “about us” page, we clearly state, “The mission of The Iowa Torch is to inform Iowans about important policy and political news from the local, state, and federal levels and engage Iowans with thoughtful commentary and analysis from a center-right perspective.”
Let’s break this down:
Our first priority is to inform Iowans about important policy and political news. Since we launched in late November, we have been reporting on local, state, and federal levels of government. If you read through our news articles, the only opinions that are expressed are those we quote. In our coverage of bills before the Iowa Legislature, we report what supporters and opponents of bills are saying. In fact, in most of that coverage, we probably quote Democrats more because, during most floor debates, the only Republican who speaks during debates is the bill manager.
We haven’t focused on bills filed by Democrats in the Iowa Legislature because since they are the minority party, those bills rarely will even get a subcommittee hearing. It’s a matter of having limited time, so we have to decide what we write about.
This is something every news organization has to do because the number of bills filed during a legislative session is overwhelming, and one can’t possibly report on it all.
With political news, we are committed to reporting on news from every political party, not just Republicans. At the federal level, we have also covered bills that U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, has sponsored and have covered town halls she has participated in. We also plan to cover Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Independent candidates who run for office. When Biden Administration officials come to Iowa, we plan to keep you updated.
Now, let’s take a look at the last part of our mission statement. Our second priority is to “engage Iowans with thoughtful commentary and analysis from a center-right perspective.”
Most of our opinion articles and opinion articles are clearly marked as opinion, not news, articles are from guest contributors and mostly from elected officials. They may say partisan things. Does that mean that The Iowa Torch is partisan? We don’t think so, because that is their opinion, not ours. Since November, this is the fourth editorial we have published. Our first editorial was about Rita Hart’s challenging U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District after a recount where she won by six votes. Our second editorial (written almost two months later) promoted school choice, which, by the way, does have bipartisan support when you look at public polling. Our third editorial analyzed Iowa’s Election Reform Law which we found to be a mixed bag, hardly partisan commentary.
We don’t believe we need to write editorials on every bill and every issue. We currently do not plan to endorse candidates in primary or general elections. The opinion we publish is from a center-right perspective. So not all commentary published at The Iowa Torch from guest writers will be “far-right.” We have published op/eds from guest writers with whom we disagree, and we know our third editorial wasn’t agreeable with many of our “far right” readers. That’s ok.
We make no apology for providing commentary and analysis in our opinion section from a center-right perspective. If they were honest, The Des Moines Register would admit their opinion pages are liberal (with a few exceptions), and their editorials are far-left. Out of the state’s daily newspapers, there isn’t one with an editorial perspective that is consistently center-right (yes, there may be an editorial or endorsement here or there that aligns more with the right than the left, but it is not the norm). We are just upfront about our perspective.
Opinion is opinion, and news is news. We don’t mix the two. We don’t do “Democrats pounce” articles. You do, however, see all sorts of examples of “Republicans pounce” news articles in traditional media outlets. We also don’t pretend that Republicans are the only ones involved in the culture war and have an agenda or that their point of view is the only controversial one.
We don’t plumb the depths of the internet to find the most outrageous things Democrats say to make people mad and build a narrative. That is activism, not journalism. We also don’t publish articles and write headlines for clickbait value. We publish them because we find that they are newsworthy. We will always attempt to get a comment from people on both sides of an issue (we may not always be successful, but we will always try).
Our goal is to inform Iowans, not stir up outrage. That’s not to say some of what we report won’t make you mad, but that’s not the goal.
We want to inform Iowans on the left and right. We hope that Iowans from any ideological perspective will trust the news we publish as fair and accurate. We want our editorials to be thoughtful and, hopefully, challenging to our readers on the right and left and in between.
We don’t just want to be just noise in an echo chamber.