When someone accuses a news organization of being opinionated or taking a side on an issue, it’s sometimes true – but not usually.
And if it is the opinion of the publication, it might not mean what you think it means.
Here are a few points that I think are helpful.
When a news outlet publishes a blatant opinion piece, it doesn’t mean the organization agrees with the writer.
Opinions represent the views of the author – not the publication.
Opinions, which can also be labeled “op-ed” or “column,” will have a byline telling you who the writer is.
Here’s a tip: if you see a headline that begins with the name followed by a colon and an opinionated statement – that is an opinion of an individual not the publication.
I think the news industry could easily eliminate confusion with some standard language explaining this on each opinion piece and including the word “opinion” every time it publishes one on social media.
One exception to these guidelines is called an “editorial” which is written by a newspaper’s Editorial Board.
In some cases, a newspaper’s leadership feels so strongly about an issue, they choose to weigh in with their own opinion.
That opinion does not reflect the views of every person in the newsroom.
And it certainly doesn’t mean that the newspaper’s coverage of the issue will be any less fair.
Reading news is critical in understanding our world…but understanding how the news works is just as important.
I’m Erin Gibson, and that’s what I have to say.