Journalistic integrity requires, in my opinion, the clear distinction and labeling between news, analysis and opinion. It used to be that way. It used to be discussed as important.
It is no more and that’s a crime. Many others have made this same pronouncement so this expression of that problem is far from new but I feel like saying it and discussing it.
Why is this failure of making this distinction important? Because information sources are where people learn about the world and in particular, our national, state and local politics. And they deserve to know fact from opinion. This has become far more important with the increasing separation of the people from their government, business and leaders, i.e. the people have no knowledge of what is being done to or for them other than through the ever-expanding sources of information.
That information includes raw news, news and analysis, and opinion. The consumer of that news has less time than in days before in order to intake and process that information. There is benefit to the time problem with the advent of the electronic sources — online news and blogs — but the problem remains that the reader must be able to distinguish fact from opinion.
Increasingly, I fear, the consumer of information is unable (or perhaps unwilling) to discern the distinction. It’s far too easy to just read or hear something and assume its veracity unless the inquiring mind is engaged in questioning and analyzing the information as it comes in. How often has something touted information as “fact” and state a source on the internet … and know nothing of the veracity or reputation of the source? Or that they heard it on the TV news?
Almost no person now doubts the liberal bias of the mainstream media. I don’t wish to debate here whether that’s good or bad, but here is the importance of understanding your source: apparently most people get most of their news from the TV national news — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX. This has been recently confirmed directly to me during jury selection where easily 90% of potential jurors stated such. There were a few getting it from the internet, either news sources or blogs; and a very few read newspapers. Not one out of about 50 people mentioned a news magazine.
Thus it is easy to understand how massive numbers of people can be, and are, misled by a liberally-biased media that does not clearly label fact from opinion. It is dishonest to allow that to occur.
It is time for the information-consuming public to demand honesty in journalism.