February 11, 2004

Just the Facts ...

Tony Marcano, the ombudsman for the Sacramento Bee, touches on two often misunderstood journalistic issues in his current column -- "just the facts" reporting and the need for conflict in news stories.

Here's the email I sent him in response to the column:

Hi Tony ...

Interesting column today, two points especially:

First, the reader who suggested that Bush's comments about WMD's be put in the context of those made by earlier presidents or presidential hopefuls has a good point. Why not do that? Why not take the daily first rough draft of history and add some historical context?

I was think about this last night when I wrote about Paul Krugman's criticism of the Washington Post's story on the Bush budget -- which Krugman felt presented facts but not the "truth about the facts." Of course, Krugman has his own political agenda, but I thought his comments about context were valid -- and similar to the above presumably more conservative reader. (That post is here.)

Second, you're dead on about conflict as a driver for news stories. In fact, Andrew Cline, a former reporter turned egghead has put together a list of what he calls the structural biases of journalism. Conflict is one of them. although he calls it "narrative bias," the need to have a story with tension. Here's the rest.



(Tip via Ranting Profs)

Posted by Tim Porter at February 11, 2004 08:35 AM

Thanks for the plug, Tim!

Posted by: acline on February 11, 2004 09:59 AM
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