MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, September 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.Well, it’s that time again for Ask the Editor with WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky.
Do remember this is an open invitation. If you have questions about why or how we do what we do at WORLD, let us know.
BASHAM: You can email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can either write out your question or—better yet—record your question and send us the audio file.
Today, Marvin answers the question: How does WORLD handle requests for endorsements?
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Here’s a typical request I receive: “You’ve been such a blessing to this ministry. We greatly appreciate the wonderful things you wrote about us a few years ago. We would love to share those thoughts with new friends who visit our website. Fifty words would be fine. I look forward to your endorsement.”
Looking forward is fine, but publicists should expect to be disappointed. Here’s my typical response: “Thanks, but according to WORLD’s Policy Guide I can’t endorse you. You can quote anything I’ve written in the magazine, but writing something special for your website would make me part of the publicity team. As journalists we try to follow George Washington’s advice: Avoid foreign entanglements.”
We get requests to contribute to candidates and organizations. Our Policy Guide, which I wrote and can conveniently quote, says, “Staff members should refrain from contributing to political candidates, because WORLD should as much as possible not be linked with particular political leaders. We need to be free to criticize. Contributions give at least the appearance of ties that are too close.”
We also say no to serving as ghostwriters or advising candidates for public office. I was an informal adviser to George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas and running for president. I recused myself from covering the campaign but should not have gotten involved at all, even though I liked and still like the guy.
Right now there’s a revolving door between journalistic and political offices, particularly liberal ones. America would be better off with a wall of separation, or at least a fence.
Our Policy Guide says reporters and correspondents may (and should) volunteer in their churches, local Christian schools, and Christian charities. But they would not be allowed to write about those particular organizations. We want our readers to know that we are independent and able to tell the truth without conflicts of interest.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.