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Opinion

Journalists should remain viewpoint-neutral

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April 11, 2008

The dictionary defines journalism as “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without a attempt at interpretation.” When you present facts without including your interpretation of them, it gives the reader the opportunity to form his or her own opinion about the subject at hand.

There is a distinct difference between news and opinion, articles and columns. A reporter is responsible for supplying readers with a neutral introduction of the facts. On the other hand, a columnist presents a subject and his or her opinion of it.

Journalistic integrity is a key part of the newspaper business because it shows that your paper is trustworthy. Isn’t that what everyone expects from their news source? I certainly do.

As a staff member of the Student Voice, I hate to see a ‘corrections’ box in the paper but then again I feel like it is a necessary addition to the paper when we make mistakes. How respectable of an institution would we be if we didn’t admit our humanly flaws?

Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether a written piece is fact or opinion. What is it when it has facts that are drenched in subliminal opinion? Is it a news article? A column?

Recently, a reporter for the Voice submitted a seemingly newsworthy article but when you take a closer look, you can see that it is quite skewed. Most news stories have more than one side.

Collecting facts from one side isn’t journalism, it’s gossip. To be totally newsworthy you need to get ALL the facts, not just what your preferred source provides you with. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like what a source has to say or whether you believe them.

It is true that deadlines need to be met, but submitting a half-hearted, gossip-filled article is inexcusable. Not only is incomplete news slanted, it’s unethical and can be slanderous. The last thing our school’s newspaper needs is to be sued for libel.

I am not a journalism major, nor am I claiming to be an journalist, but I do follow the ethical guidelines involved in journalism when I write for the paper. I expect my peers to do the same.

Megan is a marketing communciations major with a business administration minor. She enjoys reality TV and sleeping in. She is a hard worker but has been known to procrastinate like it’s going out of style.

Megan Leoni is a student at UW-River Falls.