Journalists aim to report fairly and without bias. That means we don’t inject our opinions or feelings into news reports. But increasingly on TV news, especially on cable, we see anchors expressing opinions. Those opinions may respond to the day’s events or the behavior of a public official and you may agree with them. You may cheer them. But the opinions remain opinions.
Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
President Trump attacks journalists almost on a daily basis for reporting news he doesn’t like.
So what should reporters do? Here’s what I learned and here’s what editors and news directors want you to do. Report what you see and hear. We all have biases. Step back and try to keep yours out of the report.
For example, when President Trump says something that may seem outlandish or untrue, if you are the reporter on the ground you report it without comment as breaking news. Your editors and news organization will put it into context and you may be part of that coverage. But on the ground, it is imperative to report without commenting.
But there is a difference between news and opinion and increasingly, especially on CNN, MSNBC and FOX, we see and hear opinion rather than straight reporting. Opinion, in some instances, offers valuable insight into events of the day. Fareed Zakaria, here, looks at Trump’s performance in Davos.
Often Opinion Becomes Noise That Can Disseminate Misinformation.
Journalists can take a cue from ABC’s George Stephanopolous.
He said, “You have to trust that if we do our job and do it well and do it with integrity and don’t make mistakes, that in the end, the sort of fundamental idea behind the First Amendment — the truth will out — will actually take place.