In a speech at Harvard University this week, ABC News President David Westin warned against commentary in the news media:
“The more time we express our opinions, the less time we have to talk about the facts.”
Westin still doesn’t get it.
He is is still stuck in the old-news mentality, the one that gave us three networks, three newsmen. The one where Walter Cronkite would sign off every evening with “And that’s the way it was.” These were the days newsmen were objective, unbiased, they say.
Wrong. There has always been bias. To believe reporters are not biased and have no opinion is to believe they are inhuman, almost God-like beings whose intentions are pure and good, and void of any selfish motivations. To me, that is a very arrogant way of seeing yourself if you are a reporter.
The truth is many reporters do have strong opinions and many times those leanings inevitably seep into their stories. Having or sharing an opinion is nothing to be ashamed of; you just have to be up front about it. Most reporters, however, are afraid to reveal who they really are, fearful that their media bosses may punish them for their misplaced honesty. Honesty, you see, is not always welcome in newsrooms.
At least when Westin’s your boss.
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