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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Editors' Note: A Question of "Bias"

August 12, 2010

The Editorial Board
The Tibetan Political Review
August 11, 2010

The Tibetan Political Review has recently
received several emails regarding what the
writers see as alleged “bias.”  Some emails have
been civil, others not.  These would-be critics
display a fundamental misunderstanding of the
relationship between a journal and its editorial board.

TPR’s mission statement is that the "journal does
not support or oppose any candidate.”  This means
that the journal is an open platform for all
perspectives.  All are welcome.  The journal
publishes all relevant news and opinion,
regardless of whether the editors agree with the specific thoughts therein.

That is very different than saying an editorial
board has no opinion.  An editorial board has
opinions; that is why it publishes
“editorials.”  The New York Times and Wall Street
Journal editorial boards even endorse political
candidates, despite the relative impartiality of their news coverage.

In addition, our critics seem to have a peculiar
definition of impartiality. It is the difference
between a focus on ideas and candidates.  To us,
impartiality means focusing on issues, qualities,
and qualifications, irrespective of the
conclusions they lead to with respect to any specific candidate.

Therefore, the editorial board of TPR issues
editorials with its own perspective meant to be
“tough but fair.”  This means that the editors
will try (however imperfectly) to take an
impartial view at an equal distance from all
candidates.  This means pointing out (as we see
it) the qualities of, flaws in, and open
questions raised by, each candidate from the
standpoint of the issues we identify.

What this does not mean is that each candidate
necessarily receives the same amount of criticism
and no more.  Some candidates have more or less
to critique than others, or elicit more or less
concerns than others.  It is not “biased” to
point this out, and we will not use kid gloves in
doing so.  It would be doing a disservice to our
principles and our readers to pretend otherwise.

To those readers who may be upset that this
approach harms their favored candidate, we
suggest looking to the relative merits and
deficiencies of the candidate rather than to the
messenger who points them out.  The farmer is not
to be blamed for collecting low-hanging
fruit.  If others feel differently, the
appropriate response is to promote their own perspective.

Two readers pointed out what they believe to be
inaccuracies in our translation.  We take very
seriously our duty of factual accuracy, including
providing the most precise translation we
can.  We immediately pulled the relevant article
from our site and instituted a thorough review of
our translation.  We identified where our
translation was mistaken.  We have revised the
article in question to correct this.  We also
instituted a triple-checking policy for future translations.

In short, a journal is not coterminous with its
editorial board.  Those who want to see other
opinions represented in TPR are invited to write
their own articles; they should not expect the
editorial board to do everything, nor be all
things to all people.  We are comfortable that we
have written pieces that reflect our best effort
to walk the path of taking an impartial and
critical view based on the issues.  Democracy is
a communal undertaking, however.  The TPR
editorial board has provided a free platform and
submitted their own imperfect opinions for the
public’s consideration.  It is up to others to
join in – or not – as they choose.

The editors
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