Is It Really So Wrong For A Reporter To Have An Opinion?

from the modern-media dept

There’s an interesting article by NPR’s ombudsman, noting that Planet Money’s Adam Davidson apparently went way over the line in a recent interview with Elizabeth Warren, who’s in charge of watching over the TARP program to make sure it’s not abused. Apparently a ton of people complained. Davidson apologized and NPR says that what he did was wrong and that: “It’s important for journalists to treat whomever they are interviewing with respect — and to keep their opinions to themselves. Davidson did neither.”

The thing is… when I heard the original broadcast that caused the problems… I actually really liked it. Davidson is a smart and knowledgeable guy who’s spent an awful lot of time digging into issues around the economic crisis to get to the bottom of them, and he had a reasonable point that he was trying to make, based on all of that knowledge — and he challenged Warren on it. The reason I liked it was that it was a reporter actually challenging someone on something, rather than simply letting it stand. This is something that has been missing from reporting in many cases. It’s what Jay Rosen has referred to as “he said/she said” reporting — where a reporter asks questions to elicit a story from multiple parties, but never tries to ascertain if either story is true — but just presents what the various people say. Davidson wasn’t doing that. He was actually claiming that it seemed like Warren was trying to stretch the purpose of her job to do something that didn’t necessarily fit in the role. And it was great to see a reporter actually say to someone “that’s not true” because it felt like someone was finally getting challenged (no matter whether you feel Warren is in the right or not).

It was quite clear what Davidson’s position was — he laid it out — and he challenged Warren, and it made for an interesting discussion. The whole idea that reporters must “keep their opinions to themselves” doesn’t seem to make much sense. If someone is talking to a reporter and saying stuff that the reporter believes is wrong, don’t they owe their audience the courtesy of digging deeper? I was impressed by Davidson, and am actually a bit disappointed that he backed down so quickly. It actually makes me wonder how much Planet Money will push back on people who state stuff that the Planet Money team feels is wrong in the future.

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Comments on “Is It Really So Wrong For A Reporter To Have An Opinion?”

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60 Comments
Allansays:

reporters opinions

There is a difference in challengeing some one with facts or conflicting information and “that’s not true”. If the interview is nothing BUT opinion and challenges all we are left with is Fox, not news and not information. There is a very fine art of interviewing and that art does seem to be getting lost. A good interview should have the person being interviewed telling the story because of intelligent, probing questions. With out that why, have a guest?

John Doesays:

Re: reporters opinions

It is funny how people always bash Fox News and never any other news program. Wonder why that is? If it gets under your skin so much; did you ever consider maybe because there is a a hint of truth to it? Fox News is the most popular news channel because it is the only one that doesn’t have a liberal agenda. How can you keep the liberals honest if nobody questions them?

Re: Re: reporters opinions

It is funny how people always bash Fox News and never any other news program.

I believe that Fox News was and is developed for a different socioeconomic status grouping than the people who frequent here.

If I had an average IQ, I may find it slightly entertaining. However, I find the presentation overly sensationalized, belittling, and thusly, slightly offensive. It was funny for a while, kind of like the Weekly World News.

Wonder why that is? If it gets under your skin so much; did you ever consider maybe because there is a a hint of truth to it?

Nah, I still go to the Weekly World News, and watch Fox every once and again. But other programs exist that take a more “Smarter” approach. Again, you’re probably at the wrong blog, John.

Fox News is the most popular news channel because it is the only one that doesn’t have a liberal agenda.

I tend to disagree, again, I imagine early on, a consultant was brought in who said the “average” person will respond better to news in an “entertaining” format. To make it entertaining, there should be the occasional gasp and question “Is that true?” The problem is that many people who watch Fox, or read the Weekly World News actually think it’s true. Do you see a problem with that?

Ryansays:

Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

I believe that Fox News was and is developed for a different socioeconomic status grouping than the people who frequent here.

You mean, that you are liberal and so you feel that the conservative viewpoints that Fox leans towards are thus not for people of your status? Don’t assume that most visitors to this blog are liberal, or that your political paradigm is necessarily the most beneficial to your economic class.

If I had an average IQ, I may find it slightly entertaining. However, I find the presentation overly sensationalized, belittling, and thusly, slightly offensive. It was funny for a while, kind of like the Weekly World News.

You make two pedantic insults thinly veiled in pompous vernacular here, and to denote Fox’s coverage as ‘insulting’ is melodramatic to say the least. Or perhaps you are just easily insulted. Fox is baised and certainly more sensational than many of its fellow news outlets, but not necessarily of inferior academic content. I don’t enjoy watching Fox News for my info, but I can tell that NPR is extremely biased, quixotic, and has little of redeeming value.

The problem is that many people who watch Fox, or read the Weekly World News actually think it’s true. Do you see a problem with that?

The former is not the latter; you are committing an association fallacy to make your point here by attempting to equate the two since they both contain elements of sensationalism. Do you believe the NPR’s drivel to be true? Many do, and I see a problem with that.

Fox News is far from an ideal news source, but many liberal sources are just as poor or worse; yet, outspoken voices on the internet often seem to ignore or be oblivious to the latter.

Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

Disclaimer: I support neither party and think they are both crooks. Also, I tend to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

“You mean, that you are liberal and so you feel that the conservative viewpoints that Fox leans towards are thus not for people of your status? Don’t assume that most visitors to this blog are liberal, or that your political paradigm is necessarily the most beneficial to your economic class.”

You’d have to be completely retarded not to see the blatant falsehoods and pandering to their customer base on Fox News. It’s for people that WANT a conservative slant to their news, period. That means you aren’t just getting info and news, you’re getting it through a tint. If you’re cool w/that, then fine. Most of the other news stations out there (w/the exception of ABC), present the news w/a liberal slant. The only difference is they don’t outright tell you and they don’t make it so ridiculously obvious that you have to figure it out for yourself. The point is there are NO true factual news stations.

“Fox is baised and certainly more sensational than many of its fellow news outlets, but not necessarily of inferior academic content. I don’t enjoy watching Fox News for my info, but I can tell that NPR is extremely biased, quixotic, and has little of redeeming value.”

To compare the two is kind of a joke. Certainly NPR is a biased as well, and both are part info, part entertainment. The difference is that NPR is History Channel infotainment, and FNC is WWE Wrestling. Sorry, but it’s true. Plus, that Shephard Smith fuckhole makes me want to puke. And Greta’s face looks as though she’s constantly shitting. Which I would be too if I found myself working for Rupert Murdoch.

“Fox News is far from an ideal news source, but many liberal sources are just as poor or worse; yet, outspoken voices on the internet often seem to ignore or be oblivious to the latter.”

I think we probably agree in principle, but the difference in distance from center between most “liberal” news and Fox is HUGE. Pretending it isn’t…I don’t know, that just lacks credibility to me.

Ryansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

I agree with your assessment of Fox News for the most part. The big difference I see is that Fox is overtly sensational, so it is often easier to discern opinion from indisputed facts, although the coverage is quite biased.

NPR, on the other hand, is publicly funded. Of course it is biased, and is much more subtle in its spin than Fox News. To me, this makes it worse.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

You mean, that you are liberal and so you feel that the conservative viewpoints that Fox leans towards are thus not for people of your status?

Hardly. I consider myself center. I voted Bush x2 (sorry), and wrote in Ron Paul.

You make two pedantic insults thinly veiled in pompous vernacular here, and to denote Fox’s coverage as ‘insulting’ is melodramatic to say the least.

Hardly pompous. Is that how you read the comment? But you bring up a point I wanted to point out: Have you ever heard of a phenomenon called “Biased Message Processing”? You just made a great example.

I do consider Fox’s coverage to be superficial. Granted in the 24-hour news cycle, sometimes reporters may be called to adlib. However, there seems to be deliberate decisions to hire certain personalities, which affects the reporting. Adlibs are narrative and they should be distinguished as such. The only proclaimed “liberal” on Fox was Colmes, and to my knowledge, there is no desire to replace him or his viewpoint.

As for NPR, it should be duly noted that I have no frame of reference- never heard the show or any show on NPR for that matter.

Fox News is far from an ideal news source, but many liberal sources are just as poor or worse

Sure, and I assume you speak of the DailyKos, and I avoid them as well.

However, I still remain confused. Did you really enter into this conversation with a point you wanted to make, or did you just want to show off your fancy use of vocabulary?

Ryansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

Hardly pompous. Is that how you read the comment? But you bring up a point I wanted to point out: Have you ever heard of a phenomenon called “Biased Message Processing”? You just made a great example.

Hmm…let me show the citation I made again:

If I had an average IQ, I may find it slightly entertaining. However, I find the presentation overly sensationalized, belittling, and thusly, slightly offensive. It was funny for a while, kind of like the Weekly World News

You infer that if your IQ was lower than its presumably high standard and more like the lowly Fox viewers, then it would entertain you. Unfortunately, a smart man like you is offended by what you feel is contemptably beneath your intelligence, and so you laughed for a while before sticking up your nose. Does anybody else not find his post pompous?

However, I still remain confused. Did you really enter into this conversation with a point you wanted to make, or did you just want to show off your fancy use of vocabulary?

Funny, I was actually parodying your own post.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

You infer that if your IQ was lower than its presumably high standard and more like the lowly Fox viewers, then it would entertain you.

It’s quite possible that it could be more entertaining. I have many friends who watch Fox and instead of speaking about the news which they report, they tend to focus on the delivery and adlibs. In several situations, I researched the things they enjoy in the “News Product” they consume turned out to be generally narrative, and not news.

From this point, you may assume that I enjoy a well researched news article to the narrative. If so, well, you are correct. Of course, when I consume a “News Product” I expect this. It seems society’s requirement for a “News Product” varys from my own.

Unfortunately, a smart man like you is offended by what you feel is contemptably beneath your intelligence, and so you laughed for a while before sticking up your nose.

When I desire to consume news, I want news, not entertainment. Hence the connection to Weekly World News, which clearly, is an entertainment product. However, as the line between reporting, journalism, and journalistic standards are relaxed, it can be difficult for someone who is used to receiving their “News Product” outside of an entertainment stylization. Thusly, it’s quite conceivable that a News Product and/or journalistic standards may be relaxed to the point where The Weekly World News may be acceptable within the next decade.

Does anybody else not find his post pompous?

It seems you have a preconceived notion of some sort. Is it wrong to point out the flaw which perhaps others oversee?

Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

Don’t worry, John, you’re not at the wrong blog. AC can’t distinguish between news commentary, i.e. O’Reilly, Hannity, etc. and news reporting, i.e. the Fox Report. Commentary isn’t supposed to look or sound like normal reporting. That’s why it’s so popular, both on Fox and talk radio.

Of course, put the shoe on the other foot, and try watching any NBC outlet, or perhaps NPR, etc. and you won’t get any hard hitting news at all, unless it will hurt conservatives.

But I don’t think AC will like me pointing that out.

Hail Xenu (and Seth)!!

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

The first time I watched O’Reilly, I hated it. He was constantly interrupting his guests and seemed overly rude. I wondered why anyone would want to watch this guy beat people up every night.

But then I found a pattern. He lets people talk when they aren’t blowing smoke, but as soon as they start to drift, he stops them. I guess that pisses a lot of people off, but since his is the highest rated program on Fox News and regularly beats every other news channel in his time slot, I guess a lot of people have figured him out and enjoy what he’s doing.

I’ve been watching now for about 5 years, and I don’t agree with everything he says and does, but for the most part, he reflects my social and fiscal conservative leanings. Funny, but the only people I can find who absolutely don’t like him are liberal loons who only want to hear that Obambi is the savior, abortion is a good and noble practice, illegal aliens should be granted full and complete amnesty and citizenship, and appeasing terrorists will protect us.

Obligatory: What say you?

herodotussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions


“But then I found a pattern. He lets people talk when they aren’t blowing smoke, but as soon as they start to drift, he stops them. I guess that pisses a lot of people off, but since his is the highest rated program on Fox News and regularly beats every other news channel in his time slot, I guess a lot of people have figured him out and enjoy what he’s doing.”

He was consistently rude to Jacob Sullum when he was on his show talking about drug legalization. He didn’t let him finish a single statement and ended the interview by warning him to ‘Stay away from my children’. As if anyone depraved enough to think that the WOD is a waste must be a child molester.

The man is an embarrassment.

“I’ve been watching now for about 5 years, and I don’t agree with everything he says and does, but for the most part, he reflects my social and fiscal conservative leanings. Funny, but the only people I can find who absolutely don’t like him are liberal loons who only want to hear that Obambi is the savior, abortion is a good and noble practice, illegal aliens should be granted full and complete amnesty and citizenship, and appeasing terrorists will protect us.”

I don’t like our current president any more than the last one, and I supported the war in Iraq. And I still think that O’Reilly is an embarrassment.

Finally, reporters skew the news systematically in a thousand ways that have nothing to do with anything as simple as ‘liberal bias’. Daniel Boorstin’s ‘The Image’ is still as relevant in this respect as it was when it was written.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: reporters opinions

But then I found a pattern. He lets people talk when they aren’t blowing smoke, but as soon as they start to drift, he stops them.

He let’s people talk as long as he agrees with them. If he doesn’t he goes on the offense.

…for the most part, he reflects my social and fiscal conservative leanings.

We could tell.

John Does Pimpsays:

Re: Re: reporters opinions

The really funny piece is how anyone who calls out Fox News is labeled a liberal… Why is that?

Are there no conservatives with the ability to form there own opinion? Or do they all rely on BillO and Shawn to tell them what their opinion is?

And no I am not limiting my judgement to Fox, MSNBC is the same thing for the other philiosphy. And CNN has turned into a “We have no opinion on anything, we are Robots…” network.

The problem is that Fox News is Daytime Talk show shinanagins 24/7. The only time they report opinion free fact is during a “Breaking News” event like a plane crash or similar event. But thats about it. The rest of them are not reporters but self-righteous talking heads with agendas to push… similar to Oprah…

Ima Fishsays:

To me, this is one of the reasons newspaper readership is declining. (Besides the fact that no one reads newspapers anymore because you can get better news sources online!) The writing today is utterly boring. There is never an “answer” as both sides are always presented as being right.

Think about amazing journalism, such as Watergate. Does anyone think that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were unbiased? Does anyone think Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein should have been unbiased? Of course not. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were trying to expose a crime. They were not attempting to show both sides of the event.

In today’s media climate Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein never would have been allowed to publish their stories as they were originally written.

Re: bias

This is why UK newspapers are so much more interesting to read. You can read stories from the different papers on the exact same topic and they read completely different, and you know that going in: The Guardian is liberal, The Daily Telegraph is not, etc.

Instead of reading The News you read the news with commentary, and it’s much more engaging.

John Doesays:

Depends if it is an opinion or an agenda...

I did not see the interview, so I can’t comment on it directly. But I agree, reporters do not make people answer the question. How many interviews with politicians or their PR people do you see where they are asked a question and they beat around the bush for a couple minutes and never answer the question. The reporters just keep smiling and move on to the next question. For the love of all that is good, MAKE THEM ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!

Anonymoussays:

He got into a fight in the interview. Is that what they are supposed to do? A fight? They say it over and over again in the lead in to the recording. A fight. Nice.

This guy raised good questions, but he lost his cool. His temper distracted from what he was trying to project, to get across. He should have kept his questions on point and not let her go off in the direction he went in, putting him on the defensive and he lost his power in the interview.

Rebel Freeksays:

Reporters will always have an opinion, most of whom just stay back and just make a statement from the outside.I personally enjoy reading an article from someone who actually cares to get down into the mess of it to find out what is really going on. Its like a burning building, sure you can see the smoke from the outside and maybe a little fire coming out of the roof, but you cant see what is going on inside till you go in.

zavensays:

Sometimes Yes Sometimes No

I’d like it’s important for reporters to have an opinion when an opinion is part of the story. Why should the reporter just take the person’s word for it. Look up the facts, investigate. Isn’t that why you’re reporting in the first place.

When you are simply reporting an event your own opinion is irrelevant however.

I notice opinions being thrown around a lot more often with reviews. A lot of movie reviews simply state their own opinion of the movie rather than talk about the qualities of it. I don’t want your opinion of the movie. I want you to tell me what it does well and what it does poorly. Then let me decide if that’s the kind of movie I want to see.

Logosays:

I only really trust reporters who lay out their opinions. Everyone is bias and has opinions, it’s just human nature. Reporters hiding their opinions makes it harder to take an objective look at a story. When you know the bias you can compare and contrast the story to other angles. By better understanding what parts of a story may be influenced by the reporter’s opinion you know what to find out more about. When the reporter hides their bias you can’t really be sure how they are influencing the story.

Of course no reporter should try to hide or distort facts in their stories, but the inclusion of their stance or opinion is a welcome addition to me. Opinions also need to be clearly shown as such and should never be portrayed as fact.

Fox News gets under people’s skin not because they’re opinionated but because they tend to present opinion as fact. Trying to pass off the former as the latter is very dishonest to me.

Mostly the problem with Fox news isn’t with the news program itself. It would seem that many of its proponents don’t try to see both sides of the arguments and take the opinions expressed by Fox News as truthful facts.

Kellysays:

Re: Let me make it easy for everyone:

Tgeigs, you are nearly right. But wrong.

As Rebel Freek and Logo pointed out, all reporters have opinions. I personally object to reporters who try to claim they have no slant, no opinion. They’re generally misleading themselves and therefore insulting their readers / listeners.

But you are right – news and commentary are two different things and should not be presented or sold as interchangeable.

John Doe has it right – an opinion is OK, but coming to an interview with an agenda that preempts the interviewee and her opportunity to support her role or position is not news. It’s not even good interviewing.

And for displaying his misplaced lack of respect and losing his cool, Adam Davidson rightfully apologized. So we can all move on.

Planktonsays:

Re: Let me make it easy for everyone:

Amen. When I want the news I want unbiased, objective REPORTING. If this was designed to draw the interviewee into a discussion about the legality or morality of what they were doing, that’s fine. But to take it in that direction when it is supposed to be a reporting of what they are doing is wrong.

Anonymoussays:

In a word, no.

Opinions belong on the editorial page.

News belongs on the news page.

Entertainment belongs on the entertainment page.

Gossip belongs on the gossip page (if you remember those).

I want reporters to get the facts and information. I don’t want reporters to avoid lines of questioning in an effort to describe a reality based on their preconceived notions or opinions. If a reporter wants to write an analysis, make that a separate part of the article, and clearly separate the two.

I understand that everyone has a viewpoint. I understand that everyone has an opinion. What I rebel against is being given analysis, opinion, and incomplete (one-sided, biased) reporting as fact.

Currently I have to read at least three sources of news and listen to two others to have a hope at figuring out the facts. Most people aren’t that diligent. Most people will pick a news source that reflect their preconceived view of the world.

This myopic view inhibits discussion, and reduces everyone’s abilities to make informed decisions or solve problems.

The only plus (?) is that it sells newspapers, which sells advertising.

When people grow up and understand that making mistakes is a necessary (and not bad) part of learning, then maybe reporters and readers will again look for information instead of affirmation.

Cynically, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

JMGsays:

Re:

Opinions belong on the editorial page.
News belongs on the news page.
Entertainment belongs on the entertainment page.

This is a problem I have with newspapers and the “old” way of how news was presented. It seems people like to fit things into boxes, Opinions in one, News in another, and so on. However, sometimes lines become blurry. Obama had a music and arts night at the White House a while ago. Is this entertainment or politics? What about an editorial about how evolution is wrong and creationism should be taught in schools? It’s opinion, but there’s some science and politics in there as well. That’s the problem with categorizing things like this: you lose some of the real “story” by doing so.

The reason this categorization happened previously was because of the way media was packaged and sold. There were only so many pages, so many characters that could physically be printed. These physical copies had to be sold (there was no other way to measure success of advertising) to someone, to recoup costs. Now, these restrictions are coming down. And with it, the old way of doing things. I say, let opinions be a part of the news.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Every article should have a central theme. That central theme should indicate where in the paper that article belongs.

If the article doesn’t have a central theme, then it’s a poorly written article and should probably not be published.

Your specific examples:

President Obama had a music and arts night at the White House. This sounds like an entertainment news piece. There could be an argument for placing it into the politics section. However, it is news. It is not opinion. It is not gossip.

The discussion of creationism versus evolution that you give is clearly an opinion. As such, this type of article belongs on an editorial page. If the article concentrates on the fact that creationism is not science, or that evolution fits observable fact (subject to further observable facts), then the article belongs on a science, education, or other news page.

I don’t like opinion mixed in with fact for two very important reasons.

1. Doing so requires me to perform a lot of extra work in order to get valid information. Ultimately, it makes all news sources untrustworthy. Many news organizations use inflammatory speech, selective quoting, and liberal additions of “I believe” in an authoritative voice in order to sway consumers.

2. Many people will not or cannot perform the effort necessary to obtain facts. Dialog with these people on any important or interesting topic is nearly impossible. Their ultimate response to any disagreeing point of view is “because”.

Finally, I think your compartmentalization argument is incorrect. Even in a web environment, logical, hierarchical organization of information is extremely important (perhaps more so). There are several web and information architecture books about this subject. What the web allows you to do is to make reasonable secondary and tertiary links within the information, both to related content and to advertising content.

BBC Reporters Not So Nice...

I listen to the BBC World Service podcast each morning on my walk to work and NPR news on the way home.

One big difference is the style of interviewing when it comes to guests who are either less than forthcoming or seem to be trying to hide from facts.

On the BBC, reporters really press guests and challenge them, often stopping just short of calling people liars. I have actually found myself feeling excited just listening since I know this won’t just be another sounding board for talking points.

Anyone looking for interviews with a bit more bite should check out the BBC. Oh, you’ll also discover just how much major world news you miss hearing about if you are only exposing yourself to NPR/CNN et. al.

Griffonsays:

Being right is not enough

I had no problem with the position taken, what he caught flack for mostly at first was just not being polite about the whole thing. He probable should have been a bit more deferential and kept is his cool, and still drove home the question about where this assumed authority Ms. Warren is cubing people with is coming from.
Sadly the meat of what was being asked (and in no way answered) has been lost in all this other noise.

Logosays:

“P.S. Fox tells the truth. Liberal are hypocrites that can’t handle the truth. They start screaming like Elizabeth Warren did when they can’t come up with a logical argument to defend their crazy ideas.”

I love the irony. This is a crazy idea you probably can’t logically defend.

On O’Reilly… I don’t really watch or have much of an opinion on him. I don’t think he’s worth watching but he doesn’t really offend me in any way. But wouldn’t it be better to call your guests out for blowing smoke rather than interrupting them and ranting and raving?

Using rudeness and BS to fight BS is a lot less effective than using the actual facts.

Re:

When you’ve got a nutbag like Barney Franks on, and the guy just won’t answer any questions, and won’t come clean on his lack of oversight on Fannie Mae, then yes, the only thing that can be done in response is to call BS and scream right back at the raving lunatic. I suppose O’Reilly could have told his producers to cut the live feed and be done with it, but Franks showed everyone who watched that he’s a dishonest coward who isn’t interested in what’s best for the country. So even with the screaming, the viewers got the message.

Now, insert your favorite nutcase into the above scenario and you can see why sometimes the conversation devolves.

Nutcases don’t care about facts, only pushing their agenda. When that happens, no amount of facts will dissuade them.

Anonymoussays:

There are times for reporters to have an opinion, and there are times for a reporter to ask questions and record the answers given.

THe time for opinion would have been maybe before and almost certainly after the interview, but I for one am not a big fan of the agressive attack interviews that seem to be happening these days. It’s like the entire media has turned into a bad mix of 60 Minutes and O’Reilly factor.

It’s the difference between reporting and trying to “make” news.

Anonymoussays:

Well Davidson’s opinion is not fact either, so hearing saying him repeatedly saying that Warren is exceeding her remit without stating explicit reasons why he believes this is the case, is not illuminating. He could have asked Warren to explain why instead of losing it.

This confrontational interviewer is quite a depature from his other interviews of Tim Geithner and Russ Roberts etc.

Modeling new reportorial behavior

As some people here have alluded to, a reporter who simply allows the various parties to a debate to have their say, without challenging either the facts being asserted or the methods used to present those assertions, prevents the readers from benefitting from the fact that a knowledgeable reporter had access to those people, and the reader did not. Combative interviewing, as is performed on Fox, does not improve the situation any more than the fawning interviewing of NPR does. However, there may be a way for that knowledgeable reporter to insert herself into the exchange in a way that benefits the reader or viewer, and I used a series of short stories to explore what such reporting might be like. One of these stories is entitled, “Terms of Debate”, and it starts like this…

+ + +
“I said, sit down!”

Erica Oerstblander glanced over her shoulder. One look at Hennesy, the right-wing radio windbag who’d lately taken up the hobby of dogging her, was enough to harden her resolve. “Excuse me, Ms. Ghorbian,” she repeated, a bit louder this time, and with her hand aloft for punctuation.

Neda Ghorbian scanned the rented theater’s sparse crowd from center-stage, and then stepped closer to speak with the reporter in the front row. “I’m a bit confused,” she said. “I was under the impression that the press were here to report on my bid for the open County Council seat, not to disrupt it.”
+ + +

You can read the entire story at:
klurgsheld.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/short-story-terms-of-debate/

There are many others, as well.

Reporter or Commentator?

Reporters should report the news AS-IS. Leave it to the commentators to form opinion. If I wanted a slanted lens on my news, I’d go to NBC.

Challenging “facts” and failing to bring up others is not reporting either. The media “neglects” to report both sides of any story and tends to stick with the negative, or just one side of a story, as it’s more “controversial” or “newsworthy” when stirring up a hornet’s nest.

Impartiality should be an ethic in the news media, not something to be treated as laughable. I’d prefer to decide for myself how the news affects me, and not have some sort of agenda slant it to fit their views.

When I want to listen to commentators, I will. When I want to listen or read the news, I’d prefer to be the commentator and form my own opinions. I don’t need nor want a reporter’s idea of right and wrong.

Finding an impartial reporter now days is very hard to do.

Planet Money is education, not news, editorial, entertainment or gossip

Anonymous Coward at #19 said,

“Opinions belong on the editorial page.
News belongs on the news page.
Entertainment belongs on the entertainment page.
Gossip belongs on the gossip page (if you remember those).”

But if you listen to it, Planet Money isn’t any of those things. They’re not investigating the markets so much as they try to explain them. They provide education.

I think that’s why it’s so hard to pin down whether Adam’s argument with Elizabeth Warren was inappropriate or not. It advanced the educational purpose of the show, which was a good thing. And I didn’t get the impression that there was actually any love lost between Warren and Davidson or NPR. In traditional, so-called objective journalistic news reporting, that sort of argument would be inappropriate, but in a podcast format with an educational purpose, I think it was human and it advanced the program’s purpose, so it was non-traditional but not improper.

Andy Kaplan-Myrthsays:

Re: Re: Planet Money is education, not news, editorial, entertainment or gossip

…I think it was human and it advanced the program’s purpose, so it was non-traditional but not improper.
Of course they do, Coward. Want to address the substance of my comment? Being impolite and argumentative in an educational program, while actually being educational, is not inappropriate the way it would be in news reporting or an editorial.

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