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Arment Dietrich

Dueling Quotes…Or Why I Prefer the Editorial Pages

By: Arment Dietrich | June 5, 2008 | 
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Blog written by Brigitte Lyons

What is “fair and balanced” coverage?
A. A controversial news item written off the input of one expert source, or
B.
A story that includes quotes from experts on opposite sides of a hot-button issue?

This is pretty obvious, right? The answer can only be…B. If a reporter takes the time to interview pundits who clearly disagree with each other and voice their opposing views, including quotes from both, the story is fair and balanced. Isn’t it?

No.

That’s a pretty lazy definition of “fair and balanced.” I’ve been accused (not unfairly) as seeing the world in black and white terms, but I contend that journalists are obligated to do their research. If one of the quotes is misleading – or an outright lie – simply including the opposing view is not fair and balanced. It’s all about the context.

I’m not suggesting reporters should include their opinions in news items. But part of their job is to sniff out the spin. And simply collecting dueling quotes doesn’t cut it.

At least in the editorial pages, you know you’re reading someone’s unfiltered opinion.

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