With the way the news is looked at today, it is more important than ever for those of us at The East Carolinian, as a media outlet, to present facts and avoid letting personal bias shine through in stories.
In today’s overly-polarized world, media’s main and unquestionable goal should be to provide the truth for readers, cutting through the bias that pervades modern politics, policy and life in general. The news should not be the thing fanning the flames.
There are many practices that can help in this endeavor, from avoiding conflicts of interest to providing a voice for both sides of a conflict. The biggest factor, though, is the greed that eventually crops up in every market.
Many media outlets care more about their ad revenue and keeping a customer base than actually providing the truth. It is easier to tell your customers what they want to hear than to report facts that may go against their preconceptions.
Some papers are specifically designed with one particular side in mind. While I have to question the journalistic integrity of outlets like that, they are at least up-front with their intentions. Media outlets that claim to be based in fact but only report some of the facts break all the rules reporters are supposed to learn.
As a student newspaper, we are in a unique position to remain unbiased. As individuals, the revenue the paper generates is a secondary concern to getting experience in the world of news. We need to hold ourselves accountable as a staff.
If a newspaper or other media outlet reports based on opinion, the legitimacy of the whole organization needs to be called into question. When the people telling you about what is happening in the world around you can’t be trusted, it makes it difficult to trust anything at all.
Those of us in the media have a responsibility to our readers and to ourselves to stay neutral and allow both sides of any issue to say their piece. Obviously there are exceptions, but in general, if a news site continually publishes content from one side without ever airing out an opposing viewpoint, it harms readers.
As the new opinion section editor, I believe it is possible to even keep a certain level of neutrality within the opinion section. While every article published in my section features an opinion, publishing articles with opposing views prevents our paper from becoming too single-viewed or closed-minded.
I don’t want to make it sound like I never slip up. In previous articles I have written for the opinion section, I certainly tried to talk about the subjects as objectively as possible while sharing an opinion. However, even in some of my old news articles it is possible to see the opinion of the writer in the background.
While my personal opinions will be shown through the stories I write this semester, my biggest goal is to make sure the paper itself maintains neutrality. I will not discriminate between partisan lines when deciding what stories to pursue and which ones to avoid. Even in the opinion section, the neutrality of the paper should be the number one goal.