Monday, October 17, 2011

Can A Reporter Have An Opinion?

CAN YOU ROOT for a cause and report on it at the same time?

That's the situation that Philadelphia Daily News reporter/ editor/ blogger Will Bunch finds himself. He has reported on the Occupy movement while at the same time, he serves as a fellow at a left leaning think tank. He's been tweeting his support for the Occupiers.

Is there anything wrong with that?

“I think my editors are really proud to have someone writing with a point of view," Bunch told "The Daily News is fairly unusual, we’re not that big on boundaries. The new editor, Larry Platt, encourages us to be more opinionated."

The newspaper has defended Bunch's actions. The paper's ombudsman, the conscience of the paper, wrote:

Bunch identifies himself as having "a progressive point of view." His writing for the Daily News, as well as his books and his work for Media Matters, confirms this. As a reader, I know where Bunch is coming from, just as I know where Sean Hannity is coming from. That's good enough for me.

The ombudsman is supposed to look at the paper's actions from an objective perspective. He answered my initial question in his column on Monday:

Can a reporter have opinions, strong ones, and still be credible on hard news? I believe that's possible, and know that Bunch knows the difference.

Do you agree?

Do you think the ombudsman would have taken Bunch's side if the politics were reversed?


the third from he and viggo cometh... said...


Scott Samuel David Weiss said...

Journalism's first obligation is to the truth. Reporters in this dilema should be loyal to the citizens, remaining independent, providing a forum for public criticism and compromise, and even have a conscience. These reporters should inform the public about the surrounding world, act on behalf of the public as watchdogs, wet the agenda for citizens, entertain, and document history. Media is the nervous system of our democracy, and any medium presented as bipartisan is not showing bias. Anchormen who tell guests and viewers to "[BE QUIET}" express freedom of speech, but are viewed as rude and ignorant (expunge the nefarious potty mouths and those fleeting expletives).
-Scott Samuel David Weiss
Temple Class of 2015
*Tuesday 18 October 2011

Dana Andrews said...

Yes I feel a reporter should be able to have some type of input of opinion on any subject they report on. Yes it is their job to remain objective, yet I find it must more entertaining when watching a report done by a reporter that seems to be using their head; one who doesn't just spit out what they are told.

Charles Watson said...

Yes - I believe that a journalist can have an opinion. As long as the journalist is reporting the truth and arguing the other side of any story, if the writers opinion is going to be included.

Charles Watson

Nick Filauro said...

No person can be truly, 100% neutral on a topic. A reporter can mask his or her opinions, but we all lean one way or the other, even if we do so slightly.

In Europe reporters are encouraged to do this sort of thing - here, we have a lot of people claim they're not slanted and then act slanted. If you're going to let a columnist express opinions, be up front about it.

Alexis Wilkinson said...

I think that as long as the public understands that what he writes is based off his opinions then it is oaky. I feel that if he went into each article as if his opinions were not there, then it would be wrong, but since his editors and readers know that he has a bias then it is fine.

Ruth Garrett said...

I believe that as long as the reporter fulfills his or her duty to the public (reporting truthfully), then having an opinion is fine. In fact, I think if a journalist presents an opinion, it presents a better platform for public debate. Readers can either agree with the reporter or disagree and talk about their reasons for their opinions with their friends, co-workers, etc.

Karina Cheung said...

I believe that reporters can have an opinion in their stories, but it is very important that they represent the truth in their stories. Of course when they state their opinion they must state the oppositions side and allow the readers to create their own opinions on whatever the journalist is trying to convey in their report.

TravĂ­cio said...

When reporting a story, a journalist should remain objective and neutral. That being said, I am a very opinionated man. Something like that should not ever get in the way of fair and balanced reporting, however, and should not be present in one's articles unless it is an opinion piece or an editorial (op-ed). In one's private life, having opinions should be natural and acceptable.

John Murrow said...

I do not believe journalists should have an OPEN opinion. In other words, every person no matter what topic will have an opinion on any given topic. Making your opinion known to the public should not be allowed for journalists as it is unethical. It leads to biased reporting and could ultimately end up hurting you with the readers as well.

Darragh Friedman said...

Yes, because they are human. What they must do though is have the competence, integrity and professionalism to know when to not discuss how they feel, ex. on air, when they can, ex. with co workers, friends, family, etc. Reporters are not robots, but they need to understand that when they are live or working they are personas.