Brian Doherty, LA-based senior editor for Reason magazine, has written on topics ranging from the intersection of art and politics to pollution-credit trading and the Mideast conflict, all "through a Libertarian lens."
He is also the author of two books; his most recent, Radicals For Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, is due out in February 2007.
PRWeek: In saying "Libertarian lens," what do you mean exactly?
Brian Doherty: It means we have a belief and faith that the world works best for everyone if you leave people alone to the greatest degree possible.
PRWeek: How about in terms of covering politics, specifically?
Doherty: It means Reason tends to be all-purpose bashers of politicians, regardless of party. Which is both helpful - because it shows our seriousness and our independent-mindedness - but also unhelpful in a sense, because there are a lot of readers who really do want to see their team being cheered. And no matter what party you come from, you won't see your team being cheered much at Reason.
PRWeek: It sounds as if being a true Libertarian politician is a bit of an oxymoron.
Doherty: No. It just happens that there are practically no sitting politicians who are Libertarians. Certainly one could run for office and govern on a consistent platform of "I'm going to keep government action limited to defending people's lives and defending people's property." But it's very rare.
PRWeek: Many people are disenchanted with the two main political parties. Why don't more turn to Libertarianism?
Doherty: It makes sense in general to most people: Don't you think people should be free to run their lives? Almost everyone will agree with that. But when you start breaking it down to specifics, you will always find one place where people are going to back out.
In a world where government has its hand in almost everything, it requires a certain leap of imagination to see how things might work if it didn't.
PRWeek: What kind of advice do you have for the PR pros with whom you interact?
Doherty: I actually reject the notion that there's too much PR e-mail. I think the more information flowing a journalist's way, the better. Any PR approach to a journalist is going to be a longshot, the same as any journalist's approach to an editor. But I'd be happy to hear more [PR pitches] than I do.
The usual caveat applies: a PR person, before adding a journalist to his list, should have at least a five-minute sense of "this is the kind of thing that this publication" does. For Reason's purposes, that involves people who come afoul of the government in some way, or anything that dramatizes the idea that the government is putting its foot in peoples' lives in a way that maybe doesn't make sense or doesn't have the best outcome.
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