New York Times writer (and former editor) Bill Keller printed a series of letters exchanged between him and muckraking journalist Glenn Greenwald. It’s a little long, but well worth reading.
I don’t think of it as reporters pretending they have no opinions. I think of it as reporters, as an occupational discipline, suspending their opinions and letting the evidence speak for itself. And it matters that this is not just an individual exercise, but an institutional discipline, with editors who are tasked to challenge writers if they have given short shrift to contrary facts or arguments readers might want to know.
The thing is, once you have publicly declared your “subjective assumptions and political values,” it’s human nature to want to defend them, and it becomes tempting to omit or minimize facts, or frame the argument, in ways that support your declared viewpoint. And some readers, knowing that you write from the left or right, will view your reporting with justified suspicion. Of course, they may do that anyway — discounting whatever they read because it appeared in the “liberal” New York Times — but I think most readers trust us more because they sense that we have done due diligence, not just made a case. (I once saw some opinion research in which Times readers were asked whether they regarded The Times as “liberal.” A majority said yes. They were then asked whether The Times was “fair.” A larger majority said yes. I guess I can live with that.)
Latest posts by Matt Staggs (see all)
- A Changing Of The Guard: Meet Your New Site Editor - Jul 6, 2014
- Thirty Patients Contract TB After Visits To Acupuncture Clinic - Jul 1, 2014
- Drunk Midwesterners Make Up the Majority Of UFO Witnesses - Jul 1, 2014