Monday, February 05, 2007

Civilian vs. Expert

In the reading, it is prescribed that a reporter should only give the facts (no opinions) of a story and then the reader can interpret those facts as he sees fit. However, what about the role of source opinions in the paper, do they or should they have a spot? An expert surely has a role, as he/she has the first hand experience that could be deemed factual, but what about a mere civilian onlooker who has an opinion on some event or situation? I believe that it is the reporters duty to decide what should go into a story and what should stay out, but I believe that more often than not, the civilian voice should be left out and the discussion should be left to the experts. What do you think?

1 comment:

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Hmmmm. We can chew on this question more than one way. Even though eyewitnesses to events often fail to see clearly, it remains an important element in any story, or in any criminal proceeding. But I think Jacob means stories like the recent Gavin Newsom foolishness, the coverage of which always includes average folk. I'd say you need them because if you talk to enough of them, you may well hear something smart, something different, something surprising, something beyond what the experts say. Does this mean there's a subjective element in deciding what to put in and what not? Yes. And distortion can result if the reporter is incompetent or unscrupulous. There's another element, too, one that I think the rise of the blogs illustrates. Readers/viewers don't want a one-way street. They want to talk back to their media, commenting and to-and-froing. But that's what "citizen sources" in newspapers and on TV have always been about, at least in part. We listen to *your* voice. We, in fact, are your voice. How to handle that idea without wandering too far away from accurately reporting and interpreting events -- this is what happened, and there are people who really do have some idea what it means and why -- is the challenge. But you never want to fall too deeply in love with your experts.