Media Moves

The use of “critics” and “experts” in the WSJ

October 14, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

William Power and Jennifer Hicks write in The Wall Street Journal Style & Substance blog that its reporters need to be more careful using the words “critics” and “experts.”

Power and Hicks write, “‘Critics and Experts’ sounds like the name of the worst Woody Allen movie, as our Editor in Chief Matt Murray cinematically puts it.

“In fact, they are two of The Wall Street Journal’s favorite catch-all terms, and that isn’t good. ‘They are broad and vague and often not backed up,’ says Matt. ‘Experts are sometimes self-appointed and sometimes of dubious provenance.’ And we use ‘critics’ as a device to summarize negative views, but without being specific as we should be.

“Every time we use those words, notes Matt, we are asking readers to believe we have done the work and that they should just trust us. Instead, always be specific—not just scientists but what kind? Not just critics but who? Instead of just experts, better to say market strategists or scientists who specialize in the area, or another specific phrase—and then name the people soon after in the article.

“And therein lies the second problem: Whether or not we like it, academia and think tanks are now often politicized, even as they often take pains to declare themselves as nonpartisan. But are you a straight-up nonpartisan band of experts just because you are attached to a university? Again, disclose and be specific. (And, as discussed before, describe think tanks and institutions including their leanings.)”

Read more here.

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