The real question on encountering the news is “Should journalists have opinions?” Remembering journalists that they are humans as well, journalists can have voices of their own and can explain their thoughts. Even though they can express their thoughts, they have the responsibility of reporting all the news. But because of the fact that the media is expected to have good quality in a limited time, it can screen voices if it has enough evidence to question both sides of the story.
Media’s responsibility is to question the facts that benefit the society. In order to cover the story beneficially for the audience, the editor should follow the researches she/he has found to wherever it may lead. At the end, if the story has a debatable situation, the writer or the editor should criticize and examine both sides.
According to “journalism.org”, one of the principles of journalism is “Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society.” This principle examines the importance of the process of elimination for a journalist. A journalist should start his/her article by stating both sides of the argument, before guiding the reader in his/her opinions. For instance after a reunion of 9/11 victims with Obama, Washington Post decided to broadcast the interview of Burlingame’s thoughts and speeches in the reunion. Jennifer Rubin, a conservative column writer on Right Turn in Post, evaluated this interview and its outcomes. By making a conservative writer covered the story, the Post did not report the interview objectively. The Post covered the thoughts of Rubin on Obama: “On a human level, this is a shocking reminder of just how emotionally disconnected and downright rude President Obama can be. Obama brusquely says (…) I can’t imagine for a moment that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan would have acted with such dismissiveness.” Even though the article was in a column of the newspaper, as the media was covering a story, it should have broadcasted it as objective as possible. Or it should have asked questions that would have puzzled the reader so to achieve one of the aims of the media, which is being interested in politics but not being a part of it. Instead of explaining both sides, she chose to attack Obama. If The Post had news on this situation before a columnist wrote on it, this column would have been inadequate. Even though as an op-ed writer Rubin defends what she thinks, Washington Post leads its readers to think the same as her because of the limited time and space available, like any other media in the world.
If the media intends to create an efficient and erudite society, it should urge people into thinking and seeing the facts. For example an organization called Camera (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), which is an American organization devoted to promote accurate media coverage of Israel and the Middle East through systematic research, reveals the bias shown in the New York Times by the captions the Times chose to use for two pictures. “In one photo, an Israeli soldier is shown with his automatic rifle in firing position. In the second photo, a Palestinian is shown holding an automatic rifle. The caption under the photo of the Israeli reads ‘An Israeli facing stone-throwers in Hebron.’ and the caption under the photo of the Palestinian reads ‘At the burial of a Palestinian killed in the Gaza Strip.’ Again, the Israeli is portrayed as the aggressor against relatively harmless stone throwers, and the Palestinian is portrayed as just innocently holding a gun while attending a funeral of one of his fellow victims of Israeli aggression.” Camera urges the society to see the real facts that sometimes can be modified by the journalists. Another example is that even though Wikileaks is sharing its files and the facts of the world with the public, it is not instructing the public in the right way. The media helps people to understand and connect the happenings around them. Although media should act like a third eye, it should also consider the critiques of the public and the government time to time. But, if the media inquires the sides equally, respects the knowledge of the reader and screens voices to reach an equitable level on its debate, the media fulfills its responsibility.
Even though, the way with which the media covers the story represents its position, its decision of not covering a story does too. In Burlingame’s interview case, the New York Times chose not to cover the story. New York Times could have posted a “he-said-she-said” article. While NY Times chose this way, Fox News chose to broadcast another interview with Burlingame a night before the reunion. By publishing the video Fox News leaves its viewers to decide and inform themselves on the subject. I think the media should stop using the horse race technique in every type of news because there are certain people who just get informed from one media device. By applying this technique to other news like Burlingame and 9/11 victims’ reunion, the New York Times missed the opportunity of informing its readers and in contrast to Fox News; the New York Times showed that it is taking sides.
While there is a process of elimination for a journalist writing an article, there is also a process of thrive in the news and journalist’s mind. This is why the research process is important, too. The research process helps a journalist to have the right to change his/her own views through detailed research. In order to give the reality and shape new ideas in the readers mind, journalists should be open to change, even though in today’s world these journalists are called “fickle journalists.” For example the former Yahoo bureau chief, Chalian published a joke from Twitter during a video broadcast from the Republican convention. But the joke cost him his job. Even though they fired him due to his humorous thought, these social media cases show people that journalists are not allowed to state their opinion nor change their opinion in time. Another example is former senior editor Octavia Nasr at CNN. After “she posted a message on Twitter expressing sadness over the death of a Shiite cleric and spiritual leader of Hezbollah, which is designated by some countries as a terrorist group,” she was fired the same Chalian was, as the result of the editorial standards of CNN. By these editorial limitations, they are “trying to squeeze the humanness out of” journalists. Initially, the point they achieve is they have sided journalists who cannot see both sides and just argue the side the newspaper takes.
The readers have many expectations from journalists. But the core to their idea is to have journalist who report news by examining both sides and then giving their own opinion in order to create a map for the readers.