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May 6, 2009

Evidence-based journalism

Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC‘s World Service and Global News, has posted an excellent engagement with Jay Rosen’s piece on He Said/ She Said journalism. He agrees that that type of journalism is a problem, but the problem isn’t with the He Said/She Said format. The problem is lazy journalism, says Richard. He points to some cases where we want a juxtaposing of views, which I’m sure Jay agrees with. Richard says his real concern is that some may take Jay’s piece as license to simply spout off. He writes:

Evidence-based reporting, the basis of objectivity (as distinct from impartiality) is in retreat and needs to be bolstered. He Said, She Said started life a hundred years ago as a journalistic discipline to counter yellow-journalism as Pulitzer and others tried to establish a degree of civic responsiblity in the press. It may have run its course but there are many who simply favour journalism of opinion – under the cloak of “calling the story”. I maintain we need evidence, fact-based reporting more than ever in a world awash with information rumour and opinion. That sometimes calls for a journalism of restraint – in which the New York Times (and the BBC) has an honourable tradition.

Evidence-based is a nice way of cutting through the argument about objectivity’s corrupt philosophical underpinnings. Of course, people are going to argue about what counts as evidence and what the evidence means — that is, I disagree with the implication of Richard’s blog’s tagline — “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan — but evidence is an important term not used often enough in these discussions. Evidence provides a way to disagree that can progress towards truth, or at least towards agreement, or at a minimum, an understanding of where the actual disagreement lies.

Of course, I offer this opinion without any evidence :).

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July 31, 2008

Blogs, journalism, community

Terrific piece, out of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, by Dan Kennedy on getting news within the embrace of one’s community. It won’t settle the hash about the danger of only talking with like-minded people (a danger I’m less worried about than others), but it puts the positive well.

Here’s the final paragraph:

Critics of blogs have been looking at the wrong thing. While traditionalists disparage bloggers for their indulgence of opinion and hyperbole, they overlook the sense of community and conversation that blogs have fostered around the news. What bloggers do well, and what news organizations do poorly or not at all, is give their readers someone to sit with. News consumers — the public, citizens, us — still want the truth. But we also want to share it and talk about it with our like-minded neighbors and friends. The challenge for journalism is not that we’ll lose our objectivity; it’s that we won’t find a way to rebuild a sense of community.

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April 19, 2008

Objectivity in teaching and reporting

Over at the Web Difference class blog, I’ve posted my qualms about posting here (i.e., at Joho) some thoughts about the course. Very circular and self-involved, I know.

Anyway, the question over at the Web Difference blog is whether a teacher should be neutral/fair/objective or transparent… [Tags: ]


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