Fred Brown on Labeling Advocacy and Commentary

It’s important to differentiate between opinion and impartial news coverage. More and more news organizations, though, seem to blur the lines between the two. The public has been a bit befuddled for years; many don’t distinguish between a newspaper’s editorials, say, and its regular news reporting. And there’s increasing evidence that members of the public gravitate to news sites with points of view that they agree with. They’re looking for affirmation of what they already believe, rather than new information that might challenge their beliefs. But even advocacy and commentary has an obligation to be accurate. And it needs to be identified, so the public doesn’t confuse it with what should be an impartial, accurate approach to the events of the day.

Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee