I read a New York Times article today that, to me, epitomized great journalism. The article had everything- a catchy headline, a great lead, amazing quotes, informative research- everything. However, it wasn’t these things that really impressed me. It was the writer’s ability to present his opinion through the emotions of others while also including opposing views. I believe this is the answer to the bias question. It may be inevitable, but there is a way to use your opinion as the basis of your piece utilizing sources to prove your point, as long as you also include ideas from the opposition. Carlos H. Conde, the author of the article, does this perfectly. I think that Conde really proves the stupidity of the lack of availability of abortions and contraceptives in the Philipines and the need for this new bill to be passed, but he manages to do it without interjecting his personal views. Conde also includes quotes from Catholic church representatives, the opposition to the bill. I think that more journalists could use some tips from Conde, especially the ones from FOX News and CNN. As long as you are willing to do the work to get the interviews- lots of interviews – to find the one’s that work for your side as well as some for the opposition you will produce an unbiased article. The intent of your piece should always be to give the reader enough information to be able to choose how to think and feel about a topic instead of choosing for them. That choice is the basis of free press in America, a luxury that many people in other countries are not afforded.
In China the government has total control over the media. Although citizens supposedly have freedom of speech and press it is at the government’s discretion. They own all the media outlets and determine what the public gets to see. The online world is no different. It is not full of rogue journalists voicing their opinions and outing scandal, deceit, or atrocities because the government has complete control. They even decide what foreign sites Chinese citizens can view by blocking sites that they deem inappropriate. Although there are many people, including many citizen journalists, who are trying to diminish government control over the media, they are nowhere near the freedom of press in America.
So the next time you find yourself injecting your writing with bias remember that you are lucky to be able to write about whatever you want. Don’t ruin the integrity of your piece by including your own opinions because you could be a journalist in a place where the government tells you what subject matter is okay to write about and where your editor is a government regulated employee.