Bush Legacy News Hunt Results
For this News Hunt, our community reviewed more than 250 stories on the Bush Administration. From January 5 to 12, 2009, at Dan's request, we focused our search on local and international views of President Bush, published in the last 30 days. Altogether, we found over 100 stories from "outside the Beltway." From this group, 64 stories received a NewsTrust rating, with three or more member reviews. Our top stories are featured below, and more are listed on our Bush Legacy topic page.
Here's how all Bush-related stories break down between news and opinion -- for mainstream and independent sources -- and how Bush Legacy stories breakdown by publication scope:
As shown above, opinion far outpaced news in local sources, and to a lesser extent in national sources reporting from outside the Beltway. The international sources we reviewed contained a more even balance of news and opinion.
Stories from local sources made up nearly half of the Bush Legacy news and opinion we reviewed, but received significantly lower ratings than stories from international sources. Local Bush Legacy stories received an average rating of 3.4. International Bush Legacy stories, on the other hand, averaged 3.7.
Even though they were discussing an American president, international stories ranked higher. We attribute this in part to the higher profile and overall reputation of many of the international sources we drew from. These included the BBC, The Guardian and Asia Times, which are reviewed regularly on NewsTrust; many of the local sources we tapped were being reviewed for the first time.
By our own observations, most of the journalism we reviewed on the Bush Legacy viewed the outgoing president unfavorably. While this may be colored by a liberal slant among some of our reviewers, we find it to be consistent with the low approval ratings -- currently at about 30 percent -- that Bush leaves office with. By and large, these stories touched on the issues popular among Bush's detractors -- including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the September 11 attacks, the 2000 election, foreign policy, torture, and the current economic downturn. (See 'Inauspicious beginning, inglorious end,' 'Time to help Bush write his legacy,' 'President Bush's legacy.')
In general, however, these stories did not make it into our lists of highly rated news and opinion. A testament to the judgment of many of our members, stories that focused on a single issue -- or took a more nuanced view of the Bush legacy altogether -- ranked higher than those that were more generic in their criticism.
In 'The Afghan Scam,' one of our top rated pieces of international news, author Ann Jones reported on failed reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan under Bush, and warns that president-elect Barack Obama's approach may be equally unsuccessful. The Press and Sun Bulletin (of Brighamton, New York) examined the mixed views of Bush's education legacy, specifically his No Child Left Behind initiative, in a favorably rated news analysis. And in one of our top opinions, 'Foreshadowing the Bush legacy on coal,' former NewsTrust staffer Beth Wellington elaborates on the damage Bush's energy policy has brought to Appalachian region.
Not all our top stories were overtly critical of Bush, however. Some argued it is too early to draw sweeping conclusions about his presidency, and others even praised some aspects of his leadership.
An opinion in the Buffalo News made the case that many criticisms of the Bush Administration are premature, saying that it could take a generation or more for historians to gain a full perspective of Bush's legacy. A special report from the Florida Times-Union went farther, interviewing a collection of Jacksonville voters who remain among Bush's strongest supporters -- history will serve him well, they maintain. And Bush received some applause, if reluctantly, for his decision to preserve some 200,000 square miles of seascapes, a story covered well by the Christian Science Monitor.
Overall, this News Hunt on the Bush Legacy was an educational experience for us. It challenged us to go beyond the publications we read regularly and discover new voices outside the beltway. Many of the stories we found were informative, original and insightful -- and the diversity of viewpoints helped broaden our perspective, by helping us see how local and international sources view the Bush Legacy.
Top Stories on the Bush Legacy -- Outside the Beltway
Here is a sampling of the top rated news and opinion we found on the Bush Legacy, from sources outside Washington:
Bush legacy: 'History will serve him well' in Jacksonville
Bush gets mixed grades on No Child Left Behind
Press & Sun Bulletin
Critics can't resist one last Bush-bashing
San Jose Mercury News
Christian Science Monitor
The Afghan Scam
Bush's mate Howard back in Washington
Voices Without Votes
The legacy of George W. Bush
Countries that will miss George Bush
The Bush Legacy: Painful and lasting
The Bloomington Alternative
The Press & Sun Bulletin
Bush is responsible for lawbreaking in Iraq
Salt Lake Tribune
It will take historians years to sort out president's mixed record
The Writing Corner
The Iraq War is now illegal
The Daily Beast
Similarities between President George W. Bush and Governor Rod Blagojevich
Bush's legacy: Negative or too soon to tell?
George W. Bush's legacy of failure
How does the Bush presidency rate?
To view all top stories from outside the Beltway for the News Hunt period, check our Bush Legacy full listing -- and here are all the top rated stories.
Top Stories on the Bush Administration - Inside the Beltway
And here are our top stories on the Bush Administration, covered from within the Washington Beltway:
U.S. rejected aid for Israeli raid on Iranian nuclear site
New York Times
Obama's First test
Bush legacy: a tale of two terms
Californians to Bush: the feeling's mutual
San Francisco Chronicle (Washington Bureau)
Improving ties with India, Bush can claim a foreign policy success
International Herald tribune
Ballots, bullets and suicide bombers
Bush's legacy? It could have been worse
National Public Radio
United we stand: debating Bush's legacy
All Things Considered
George W. Bush's legacy
Los Angeles Times
On leadership -- Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee
To view all stories on this topic from inside the Beltway, check our Bush Administration full listing for that period. Top rated stories for the Bush Administration last month can be viewed in this filtered listing.
Thanks to our partners and reviewers
The Bush Legacy News Hunt posed interesting challenges. Foremost among them was the task of finding "outside" voices and local opinions. Getting beyond the usual suspects took substantial effort, and many times even a media resource on the far end of the planet was running a story from an "inside the Beltway" journalist. Nearly as challenging: finding a range of viewpoints from equally articulate writers. I sense a diminished ability--or at least inclination--for civilized discourse between people holding opposing views. I hope readers find the compilations and reviews in NewsTrust a starting place for conversations--respectful conversations--that will lead toward understanding and constructive change. My third and persistent challenge was to live up to the better of my own aspirations and curb my inclination toward snarky remarks and hyperbole. Our partnership with Dan Froomkin and the Washington Post definitely helped me keep focused and aim for the highest quality in postings and reviews.
Many thanks as well to our many reviewers, including our most active contributors: Dale Penn, Michael Bugeja, Mike LaBonte and Kristin Gorski
Over 200 reviewers participated in this Bush Legacy News Hunt, and over 100 of them were new reviewers. Good for you!
This week: Gaza
This week we're partnering with Link TV to focus on the war in Gaza. Can you help us find the best journalism on the conflict between Israel and Palestine -- and its impact on world politics? From Monday, January 12 to Sunday, January 18, 2009, we're looking for unique perspectives from independent sources in the US and abroad -- not just mainstream media reports.
For this News Hunt, we're joining forces with Link TV viewers, led by Middle East program director Jamal Dajani -- as well as NewsTrust hosts Mike LaBonte and Marsha Iverson.
-- By Derek Hawkins, with Fabrice Florin and Kaizar Campwala
(UPDATED WITH NEW GRAPH ON 1/15/09)