While I am the guy who primarily drives the content at Caffeinated Thoughts we do have a variety of contributors who hold a variety of opinions on different political issues and candidates. While Caffeinated Thoughts is unabashedly a commentary and news site from a Christian and conservative point of view the voices within that scope can be quite broad.
As the editor who believes in the freedom of speech and freedom of the press I don’t have any interest in quelling speech that falls within our stated purpose. That said, please understand that not everything written here is necessarily the opinion of myself or the other contributors. I certainly don’t agree with every opinion voiced here, and I’m quite positive that not all of Caffeinated Thoughts’ contributors agree with me on everything I write.
I think that’s healthy and helps stretch us as writers.
As we approach 2016 I do want to make a commitment to our readers. We will be transparent. For instance if something is printed under the byline of Caffeinated Thoughts (with the exception of our radio podcasts) it is a press release from an organization or campaign. While much of it can be considered news, it is not always unbiased. You may wonder how do we decide whose press releases get published? (or not, but I am going to tell you anyway) My first consideration are press releases that are emailed to me. I don’t have time to troll the internet for content so press releases emailed to me will always get priority.
Second, press releases that are Iowa-centric will typically take precedent over ones that are not. Third is it about a subject that I believe my readers care about? Press releases dealing with subjects we write about will typically get more attention than ones that don’t. Yes this is subjective, but when you get as many press releases as I do one has to make choices.
Preferably I like to wrap a press release into a story I’m already writing under my byline or sometimes I’ll kick it to our contributors to see if they would like to do the same. I also generally don’t like having multiple press releases from the same candidate run the same day. I also don’t want Caffeinated Thoughts to be driven by press releases (unless we can incorporate them into stories). Just remember I am the only person who deals with all of the press releases and running Caffeinated Thoughts is not my full-time job.
Contributors supporting candidates
I laid out an endorsement process for Caffeinated Thoughts. This publication will not make an endorsement until November. Not all of our contributors are involved in that process. I am requiring any contributor who writes about the presidential race to disclose in their articles if they are backing a candidate. This includes endorsing a candidate and/or working in a paid or volunteer capacity for a candidate.
I personally will not make a decision about 2016 until our endorsement process. Does this mean I’m not biased? Certainly not. Obviously those who know me know that I am pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and anti-Common Core among other issues that are important to me. Those issues and others will certainly color my commentary. For instance, I have criticized Governor Bush on Common Core, but I have also praised him on statements he has made on life and religious liberty. I’ve criticized Donald Trump on different things that he has said, but I’ve also covered his press conferences and events as straight news. I’ve praised Carly Fiorina in the past, but I’ve also pointed out areas where I have disagreed. If I happen to be critical of a statement made by a candidate or a position they have taken it isn’t because I’m “fronting for another candidate.” If I am critical it is because I disagree, period. Will these things eventually factor into who I endorse or who Caffeinated Thoughts endorses? Yes of course it will to see our criteria go here.
You see unlike much of mainstream media we are transparent about our bias. We wear it on our sleeve (and tagline).
I will seek to cover campaign events fairly and make it to as many candidate events that I can. Again being a conservative Christian site it’s no secret we typically focus on Republican events (I’m not even sure we could get credentialed at some Democrat events). Also, I attend events based on my schedule and the distance to the event (again running Caffeinated Thoughts is not my full-time job).
I strive and I want Caffeinated Thoughts’ contributors to strive to be fair when critiquing a candidate. Meaning we shouldn’t put words into a candidate’s mouth. We should accurately quote a candidate. We shouldn’t rip quotes from their context if it changes the meaning, etc.
If we are discussing a candidate’s record we should cite a direct quote they have made based on an interview, a speech, or their campaign website. I expect our contributors to cite their sources. Anything we say about a candidate should be verifiable. What we will not do is make an accusation without proof. We will not play connect the dots without a clear connection to the candidate. We also will not report on third party hearsay.
One of my guiding principles, and I admit that I fall short of this on occasion, is to speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15). I expect myself and Caffeinated Thoughts contributors to be truthful, but also be loving. So we must be measured in our critique, we shouldn’t be off-colored in our speech, we should be substantive instead of snarky. As a Christian site we should always ask ourselves whether our writing is glorifying God or not.
Again, I have fallen short on occasion and so will my contributors because we are human and we are not perfect, but that is our standard and we will own up to it if we don’t meet it.
Anyway, I just wanted to make a few things clear as we move further along in the primary season.
Latest posts by Shane Vander Hart (see all)
- Pro-Life Message Receives Icy Reception at Historic Christian College - November 21, 2017
- Kramer Appointed as Advisor to Iowa Senate to Improve Workplace Culture - November 21, 2017
- Bob Vander Plaats: Focus on Cultural Transformation, Not Politics (Video) - November 20, 2017