Is There Quality in the Media?

DDonaldsonStepping into the role of editor of Quality Progress, I was encouraged to find the magazine staff has many procedures to ensure the highest quality. Using tools such as focus groups, Societywide member surveys and reader surveys, the editors regularly gather data on what readers like best in each issue and what you would like to see in the future. (To participate in this issue's survey, go to www.asq.org, click on the Quality Progress page, then click on the Reader Survey link.) We also read, collect and track your letters, phone calls and e-mails.

During the editing and proofing process, we track errors, both those you never see and the rare ones (we hope) that, despite our best efforts, make it into print. The editors follow a comprehensive procedures manual for every task. We continually seek to improve the magazine and the Web site. In fact, if you have visited the ASQ and QP sites recently, you likely have noticed a dramatic redesign.

Perhaps the emphasis on quality within our own walls is why this month's cover story on "Quality in the Media" (p. 35), written by former QP editor Miles Maguire, resonates so much with me. I believe you will find it interesting reading, too.

Everyone, regardless of profession or interests, relies on some type of media to stay informed on everything from the weather to stock quotes to the latest company to use Six Sigma. We like to think the information we receive is accurate and reliable. Yet many who watched or read the news media's coverage of last November's U.S. presidential election were troubled by the inaccuracies and seemingly frantic, unfocused reporting of the undecided outcome and legal implications. As a journalist, I was appalled. After reading Maguire's article and learning how few major media are using even basic quality principles, I think you will also view their offerings with a more critical eye.

Last fall the result of this apparent lack of quality seemed to converge in our election process. Howard R. Schussler, chair of ASQ's Government Division, discusses the need for voting reform (see "Can Quality Concepts and Tools Fix the U.S. Election Process?" on p. 46). You will also find comments from readers on ASQ's related position paper in "QP Mailbag" starting on p. 8.

I feel fortunate to be working on such an excellent publication as QP with its talented, quality oriented staff. My goal is to help you keep abreast of the changes, events and issues in the ever evolving quality field. To that end, I encourage your input on the magazine and its Web site. Please contact me at PO Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005; 800-248-1946, Ext. 7295; e-mail ddonaldson@asq.org

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

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