Bite Your Tongue!

By: Ashton King
By: Ashton King

Opinion: a belief or judgment that falls short of absolute conviction, certainty, or positive knowledge; it is a conclusion that certain facts, ideas, etc., are probably true or likely to prove so.

"Do you ever have to "bite your tongue" on your true views or feelings about politics and government when a "delicate" or "touchy" story is broadcast? I mean, y'all want everyone else's opinions, but I rarely hear statements made from the WTVY crew. They tell the story, but are good at not getting personally involved verbally, on camera. Is it hard to keep your opinion to yourself?" - Sabrina

Members of the media are expected to be impartial. I've found impartiality is the hardest journalistic character trait to embody.

I speak from personal experience when I say it is impossible for news people to be impartial. We're human; we have opinions. We're allowed to have opinions. Where things get tricky is when we're allowed to express those opinions.

Is there really no room for opinion in a newscast? And, is it truly possible to have an opinion-free show?

In my opinion, opinions are always interjected into a newscast in some way. I'm not saying when we write stories they're slanted one way or another. In fact, we strive to show all possible sides of every story we cover.

However, everything about my show in some way reflects an opinion - from the way it's stacked, to the way it flows together, to the words that are chosen to tell the stories.

Delivering the news is just like telling a story. Everything from the inflections in the anchors voices to their facial expressions to the words they use to tell you about the latest news make a difference.

So where is the line drawn? Obviously the anchors aren't going to say "I think he's guilty" when talking about a murder suspect. That would be ethically wrong. But should they be banned from saying they don't agree with the way the playoff system is set up?

You guys seem to like it when our anchors and reporters show they're human. If we completely cut out opinions, we would lose that. But if we allow ourselves to express our opinions, we risk making at least one of you mad. 

So what should we do?

Maybe we should just go back to the basics of our craft and address our ethics. We should ask ourselves if voicing our opinion about a particular subject, story or person will jeopardize our integrity and hurt our credibility. If the answer to that question isn't clear, maybe we should avoid it.

Bottom line: journalists don't have a voice. It's not our job to tell you guys what we think. It's our responsibility to give you a legitimate voice, to be someone you can trust to tell you about the things that are going on in your communities without blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

What do you think? Should our anchors and reporters be able to express their views on the stories we cover?


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