It's starting to look like local media do better reporting on religion and politics -- i.e., less pejorative, viewpoint-tainted reporting -- than national outlets.
Case in point: Marco Rubio's exchange with an atheist in Iowa. From what I saw, the farther from Iowa, the more breezy and/or sarcastic the story -- and the harder to tell it from commentary. Consider first the Des Moines Register:
Forgive me for the six-paragraph string here at the start, but the story is almost a perfect model for writing what you see and hear, not what you think of it. This is essential reading:
WAVERLY, Ia. -- Confronted by an "activist atheist," Marco Rubio said he’ll champion a country where "no one is forced to violate their conscience."
"No one is going to force you to believe in God, but no one is going to force me to stop talking about God," said the Florida senator, prompting applause and a whistle of support from the crowd.
During a town hall on Monday morning, Justin Scott, 34, of Waterloo asked about Rubio’s new ad, explaining that atheists such as him are "looking for somebody that will uphold their rights as Americans, and not pander to a certain religious group," he said.
In the commercial, Rubio does not mention specific political policy but discusses how "our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ."
"You have a right to believe whatever you want," said Rubio, a Roman Catholic, in response. "You have a right to believe in nothing at all."
Rubio went on to explain how his faith has been the "single greatest influence in my life, and from that I’ll never hide."
Nor is it a mere puff piece.