Friday, October 03, 2008

I Liked My Answer. Came up with a Phrase I Hadn't Seen Anywhere Before. (Don't Take That as a Challenge)

One of my Advanced Reporting students wrote about the enduring question of bias in news reporting at her blog. I responded:

*Please* take the Journalism Ethics ckass before you leave us. This is a tangle we will chew over first week to last.

My short answer is that we always have a bias, but you could argue it shows most clearly in what we write about, not how we write about it. Feel fury about Darfur but try to be fair and try to be balanced when you write the overview story. Are rape and murder terrible? I won't give an inch on that. But what is the deep background -- the religious and ethnic tensions, the examples of proxy aggression, the economic forces -- that worked together to create a space into which evil flowed. The answer is not simply that the evil did it. Evil is opportunistic, not inevitable. Of course, sometimes you coax all the rationalizations and explanations out of someone and see them for the rags they are. Maybe, then you explain why they are. Or maybe you find the "expert" source who does it for you. You may say there's no difference. I think there is.

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