Opinions expressed in news reports are not The Expositor’s


Editorial – There has been a lot of chatter in recent years, admittedly some of it well-deserved, about editorializing within news reports (see the Fox-CNN debacle unfolding south of the border).But there should be a clear distinction made between an opinion expressed by someone being quoted within a news article and the editorial stance of a media outlet, be it in print, televised or digital format.

It is the duty of a news outlet to faithfully convey the thoughts and opinions of individuals, organizations and government actors in issues and not to distort, through the changing or omission of contextual information, anything that could qualify any statements or opinions expressed. It is important for you, the reader, to have all sides of the argument from which to judge.

It has been quite common for this newspaper to receive cards and letters, and in this digital age emails, expressing outrage about something someone said that was then reported in a news article. There is an old saying that fits these situations, quite literally: “don’t shoot the messenger.”

This newspaper does have an opinion on many issues, and this is where they should be found—on the editorial page, or sometimes (in very special circumstances) on the front page clearly marked as a front page editorial. This newspaper does not shy away from expressing its opinion on matters that we deem important to the public weal and yet there are times when we do not step up to express an opinion. This is often because we are of two or more minds when it comes to the issue at hand.

By “we” we mean the editorial staff of the paper. The editorial found on Page 4 is meant to reflect the considered viewpoints and opinions of our editorial staff, the folks who have boots on the ground in covering issues and the events of the day.

That is not to say the rest of the paper’s staff are left out as input on an issue is often also canvassed. It is unusual, but by no means uncommon, for the writer of an editorial to also reach out to those in production, sales and accounting to discover their thoughts. Often, if no opinion is expressed, there was not sufficient consensus or common ground to be found to voice a stance. In short, the editorial of The Expositor is our opinion—and should be taken as such, no more. The editorial staff, those charged with seeking out all the news that’s fit to print, have a professional responsibility to keep their opinions out of the stories they pen.

Everyone has a perceptual lens through which the world is viewed, and because those lenses are not always easy to see past, it is also important that the reading public is aware of a news outlet’s particular lens.

It is always amusing to see a letter end with the comment, “you won’t print this,” given that we tend to print just about anything that arrives across our doorstep, as long as it isn’t hateful, threatening, abusive or libelous. The opinion letters appear either directly below our own editorial or on Page 5 beneath a header identifying them as such.

Those letters express opinions that are quite often in response and in direct opposition to The Expositor. That is as it should be.

It behooves those of us in the news media to conduct our due diligence and expend every effort to bring you the most pristine and undistorted image of the issues that concern you as we can. Should we fall short of that goal in your opinion, please let us know, but in doing so please stick to—as Dragnet’s Detective Joe Friday was wont to say, “just the facts, m’am.”