F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
September 16, 2001
What's Behind "Behind The Headlines"?



F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

There's a method to our madness, and it's time we told you what it is.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Behind The Headlines (behindtheheadlines.org), which was inaugurated as a radio program by noted journalist and author John T. Flynn in 1951 and has continued uninterrupted to this day. From the beginning, the stated mission of these commentaries has been to promote free enterprise and constitutional government. Under that broad umbrella, we have consistently offered a politically conservative, morally traditional perspective on a wide variety of topics, with special attention given to economics, national security, and education. We have also devoted considerable attention to cultural matters -- in the conviction that the culture is where bad ideas first manifest themselves and that it is often too late to stop them from triumphing when they at last reach the political arena.

Our commentaries summarize everything from policy reports of a few thousand words to full-length books of several hundred pages. To preserve the distinctive "voices" of the various authors we cite, we generally eschew paraphrasing in favor of direct quotation. We quote personnel and publications from organizations with which we generally agree, but have never expressed or implied our full endorsement either of the materials cited or of the sources from which they originate. Our objective is to present a perspective worthy of consideration and encourage our listeners and readers to decide for themselves what position they'll take on an issue. We might, for instance, devote one commentary to the summary of a well-argued case in favor of tuition vouchers and then devote a subsequent commentary to the counterargument, without indicating -- or even feeling the need to indicate -- which of the two we find more compelling. When conservatives have staked out defensible positions on both sides of an issue, we feel no compulsion to establish a party line on the subject.

Though our commentaries are not intended to constitute endorsement of the materials or sources cited, we do scrupulously avoid organizations that we distrust and ones with which we generally disagree. We also refrain from citing unpersuasive material from otherwise favored organizations, and we tend to shy away from politicians and groups closely associated with political parties. Behind The Headlines makes no determined effort to be "timely." We consciously disregard transient things and focus instead on the issues and ideas behind the headlines, thereby demonstrating our dedication to eternal verities.

Behind The Headlines does not preach to the choir. Our commentaries are directed at the proverbial man-on-the-fence with the hope of persuading him at first to lean our way and then eventually to stand with us. Our commentaries are not intentionally highbrow, but they are meant to be challenging. They are definitely not targeted to the lowest common denominator. We vigorously reject the condescending and self-perpetuating journalistic axiom that the average American reads on the sixth-grade level and that all reporting and editorializing must pander to that level. We do not tell people what to believe, but encourage them to figure things out for themselves, confident that they will reach the right conclusions once they develop the habit of thinking.