I’m not going to go at length about the End of Objectivity, or even the perils of objectivity, although I should get around to posting a little literature review and presentation I wrote on the topic awhile back.
But here’s a good concrete example of how awkward it can be sometimes to include “both” sides of a story in a news article…
I wrote this story on the immigration issue for today’s Spartan Daily. I talked to faculty from history, political science, and social science. I talked to a few students whom I thought might be Latino (they were), and a few who I figured weren’t (they weren’t).
And there I was, with a story totally devoid of anyone backing HR 4437. What was my obligation? My editors wanted a voice in there to state the case, but as the day went on, even the Republican leadership in Congress backed off from the whole “illegal immigrants = felons” part of the bill. So, I put in a few calls to U.S. representatives from California who had sponsored or voted for the bill. No dice, no calls back, no one who could give a statement.
Next thing I tried was a conservative group on campus – they thought the legislation was the wrong way to try and solve the problem. If the story wasn’t already up over 800 words, I probably would have thrown a quote from them in the story, but I still didn’t have the counterpoint needed.
What would you do in this case? Would you seek out a fringe group that you KNEW would give you a useful quote?
I called the Minutemen.
The media relations guy picked up his cell phone after a couple rings, then politely answered my questions with a nice long statement on the issue, giving me the “illegal immigrants = felons” bit, plus blaming all involved governments for the problem.
What’s the right thing to do? Should I have asked my editors to hold the story until I got in touch with one of our Reps, or was the Minuteman interview good enough? Should I have walked around campus until I found students who thought deporting 12 million immigrants is a good idea?