Thursday, September 21, 2006

What Journalism Is And What It Isn't

Journalism is supposed to be about fair and balanced reporting, covering both sides of the issue and allowing the readers/viewers to decide. However, this is not always the case.

Too many networks and newspapers lean towards one side of the political spectrum or the other. The New York Times is accused of being liberal, while FOX News is charged with being too conservative. Sadly, many people say that this is just fine with them because they can go to different stations or newspapers to get information, because each news outlet has its own "political agenda" as some have labeled their stance on certain issues.

This is wrong. A person should be able to go to one news source and feel comfortable with the fact that he or she are getting a just and balanced report on the issue they are reading/watching about.

Sometimes, though, when two people read the same thing, they each have a different opinion on the stances of the writer of the article. This happened to me after the last presidential elections a few years ago while I worked as an editor for a weekly newspaper.

Not believing that newspapers should support any politician because it may cloud their reporting, I took a neutral stance on the elections. I wrote an editorial about a week before the elections were about to take place and it was going to appear a week after the results came in. I finished the editorial after a few days after the election, just to see who one so I could properly name the winner. The editorial basically said that as Americans, we should all come together after the bitter mudslinging fight and should support President Bush, as well as Sen. Kerry.

Well, I received two letters to the editor, with one person saying I supported Bush, while the other accused me of being a Kerry supporter. I ran both letters and wrote an editorial, stating how interesting the reactions were, considering I wrote the editorial a week before the elections results came in.

Thus, this proves my point that some readers and viewers decide what a news outlet's political leanings are. And that is true. Even the most objective reporter and editor cannot do anything about that. However, it is also true, from personal experience, that certain news organizations will put their own political slant on certain news stories or intentionally not even bothering to include certain views.

But that is a blog for another day.