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Should journalists have opinions?

Posted by: | October 30, 2012 | No Comment |

The journalism world is a strange one. Nowadays, news organizations have created new “social media guidelines” that prevent journalists from stating anything that expresses an opinion on something.

Why do we pretend that journalists are impartial robots without opinions?

Octavia Nasr, former CNN Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs, was fired after she tweeted this:

Courtesy of http://cdn.pjmedia.com

Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was labeled a terrorist by US officials because of his involvement in the establishment of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Huge backlash led to CNN dismissing her because they believed “her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs [had] been compromised going forward.”

Jack Shafer, opinion writer for Reuters, said,”The journalistic orthodoxy… maintains that news reporters and news editors must not have opinions, or if they do, they must not state them.”  The belief that journalism involves the unbiased, objective journalist is simply not true.  Just because someone acts objective does not make them objective.

Are journalists gonna say controversial things? Of course, everyone does. Why should that disqualify them from ever practicing journalism ever again? Pretending bias does not exist can sometimes be damaging because journalists may find themselves covering both sides of the story without digging into the truth of any of the facts.

Some prefer that journalists express their opinion and bias and let others argue the points out. Today, communities of people are going to social media platforms like Twitter to share, discuss, and comment on news because that is where “the news” is presented best.

under: Comm 455
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