LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A call for fairness, objectivity

By Tracy A. Smith | Published Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Journalistic objectivity is a nasty word – or is it? In some cases it is taken as such, especially when it comes to smaller publications that generally depend on local advertisers for support. The invention of social media has made it even harder for local papers to compete.

I empathize with them – however not so much that I’m willing to allow disrespect of the good people I know and trust.

Journalist professionalism is usually gauged by the level of objectivity a reporter or media outlet has. A journalist’s objectivity is judged by the level of fairness, disinterest, factuality and nonpartisanship on the subject matter they are reporting on. If one’s reports don’t reflect this, it’s an opinion piece.

As a Wise County resident, I feel we need deep reporting and real understanding of local issues, but we also need reporters to acknowledge all that they don’t know about these local issues and stop masking these shortcomings behind a gloss of attitude, or drown it in a roar of oversimplified assertions.

This is a call upon the Wise County Messenger and its reporters to reinstate fairness back into their reporting. By fairness, I mean reporters covering a story must remember there are usually two sides – and often more – to most issues, and that those differing viewpoints should be given roughly equal space in any news story.

In other words, stop doing personal stories about local candidates on the November ballot unless they intend to do one in-kind for the opposition.

Tracy A. Smith
Decatur

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