Reuters editor in chief Stephen Adler writes for Nieman Reports on the importance of providing information that lets readers make decisions.
Adler writes, “That’s why we avoid loaded language and instead describe statements and behaviors in detail, in context, and without characterizing them with conclusory adjectives.
“In teaching journalistic ethics, a mentor of mine, Barney Calame, made a point of deriding the use of the word ‘posh’ to describe a hotel where corporate executives were staying. Just tell us the cost of the rooms and describe the décor, and let readers decide if, by their standards, it is ‘posh,’ he’d say.
“It was great advice, with application in all spheres of coverage. Provide the facts and the context, aim for objectivity as a goal even as one understands that it is not entirely attainable. Hone our skills at sourcing, fact-gathering, sorting confirmed information from unfounded rumor. Write without agenda. Then leave it to the reader and the viewer to put our work to use. This isn’t a recipe for “he said-she said” journalism or false equivalency. It’s a prescription for trusted journalism that performs a true public service.”
Read more here.