July 12, 2010

Why Should Journalists Not Be Allowed An Opinion?

Since when are journalists not supposed to have opinions? They do and always have. Which means, of course, that there has never been such a thing as objectivity in journalism. One can only try to be as objective as possible. All of this is nothing new, yet Octavia Nasr, a senior editor at CNN who contributed to the network's Middle East coverage, resigned after she tweeted that she was saddened at the death of a Shiite cleric and spiritual leader of Hezbollah. Some may not share her sadness but we all should defend her right to express it. Twitter did her in when just the opposite should have happened. CNN viewers and editors alike should be happy to know Nasr's opinions about the Middle East so they can judge her coverage for themselves. As a practicing business journalist, I have opinions about the stories I cover and I try hard not to let them seep into my writing. If I used social media to voice my opinions, I probably would try even harder to be objective, knowing that readers of the magazines I write for may have seen my tweets or Facebook posts. That can only make for better journalism. Everyone is free to have an opinion, right or wrong, good or bad. In the U.S., they also are free to express it. Shouldn't that include journalists?

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