IJ Boldly Goes Beyond Usual Media Outlets
IJ Boldly Goes Beyond Usual Media Outlets
By John E. Kramer
I never understood audiophiles. I listened to my iPod through run-of-the-mill headphones and it sounded just fine to me.
Then I was lucky enough to visit with Jim Thiel, the founder of THIEL Audio and an IJ donor until his recent passing. Jim sat me down in his company’s showroom at the Consumer Electronics Show—the world’s largest technology tradeshow—to show me what I was missing. He hooked up his own iPod to play Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto through his sound system. Instantly I understood the experience audiophiles were after.
“Do you hear the separation between each instrument?” he asked. “You can hear each instrument individually, as if the entire orchestra were sitting in front of you. That is what audiophiles are after. That is what makes our system different.”
Jim Thiel drew in the uninitiated and the skeptical and won them over through the mastery of his craft.
That is the same thing the Institute for Justice works to do each day, sharing our message with mainstream media who might not initially understand or appreciate our worldview. In the end—because of the way we communicate and the content of the message we deliver—we consistently earn respectful media coverage from all corners of the journalistic realm.
One of my favorite success stories along these lines came from National Public Radio’s Legal Correspondent Nina Totenberg, who summed up what we have heard from so many reporters over the years: “I like working with the Institute for Justice because you guys are happy warriors. You’re informed, you believe in what you say and deliver it with a smile.” As Totenberg’s comment attests, in the substance and style of our message, IJ is made up of happy warriors.
Similar appreciation was heaped on IJ at the Daily Dish, a popular blog run in The Atlantic by journalist Andrew Sullivan, where Conor Friedersdorf counted IJ among those pursuing “pragmatic libertarianism.” That, too, is how we see ourselves. From our inception, IJ was created to be real world—we take important ivory tower ideas, like economic liberty, and demonstrate their importance to Americans on Main Street. That is why The Atlantic writers and many others cover IJ cases, such as our lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana monks who are blocked from selling caskets because of a government-imposed funeral home cartel. Heavyweight liberal blogger Matt Yglesias of the influential Center for American Progress, likewise recently praised this IJ case saying,
“. . . the view that public policy should encourage rather than discourage competition is one progressives should be able to easily embrace.”
One might be surprised to find lengthy discussions in liberal news outlets demonstrating the importance of property rights, and yet, year in and year out, the Institute for Justice has earned such placements in publications like Mother Jones, which covered IJ’s battle against civil forfeiture abuse, and syndicated television programs like Democracy Now!, which spotlighted IJ’s effort to turn the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Kelo case into a national cause for reform.
IJ took its battle for free speech and against campaign finance restrictions to The Huffington Post in the wake of the unfounded outrage over the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. IJ Senior Attorney Bert Gall pointed out that the very media that is upset over the ruling, which in reality did nothing but expand free speech rights, should have feared the consequences of a ruling that went the other way—an outcome that could ultimately have restricted the media’s ability to editorialize on politics and endorse candidates.
Throughout its nearly 20-year history, the Institute for Justice has worked to set the standard in the Freedom Movement to effectively advance our ideals not only in court, but in the court of public opinion, and not solely to those few in the media who are philosophically predisposed to agree with us, but also to those many influential reporters and outlets who are often at odds with how we think. By remaining positive, real-world and insightful, we will continue to work to earn their coverage and expand the message of freedom.
John E. Kramer is IJ's vice president for communications.