Molly Ivins on fair and balanced news

Balanced seesaw

Balanced seesaw
Image credit: Pop + Politics

The very notion that on any given story all you have to do is report what both sides say and you’ve done a fine job of objective journalism debilitates the press. There is no such thing as objectivity, and the truth, that slippery little bugger, has the oddest habit of being way to hell off on one side or the other: it seldom nestles neatly halfway between any two opposing points of view. The smug complacency of much of the press—I have heard many an editor say, “Well, we’re being attacked by both sides so we must be right”—stems from the curious notion that if you get a quote from someone on both sides, preferably in an official position, you’ve done the job. In the first place, most stories aren’t two-sided, they’re 17-sided at least. In the second place, it’s of no help to either the readers or the truth to quote one side saying, “Cat,” and the other side saying “Dog,” while the truth is there’s an elephant crashing around out there in the bushes. Getting up off your duff and going to find out for yourself is still the most useful thing a reporter can do.
Molly Ivins in her Introduction to Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon‘s Adventures in Medialand: Behind the news, beyond the pundits, (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1993), p. ix-x. Cited as the Quotation of the Day for March 20, 2010; submitted by Kathleen Magone on March 10, 2010.

Molly Ivins Posted on behalf of Molly Ivins on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 under Quotations.
» Next Post:
« Previous Post:

2 comments

  1. […] Johnston’s thoughtful piece reveals the dangers of reporting that, in the rush to get the story out, fails to fully tell the entire story, to dig for the facts. Subscribing to an easy objectivity that equates “balance” with the transcription of spin from both sides of an issue, reporting on the assault on unions has failed to truly inform. I’m reminded here of the late great Molly Ivins, who famously observed that […]

  2. […] of an issue, reporting on the assault on unions has failed to truly inform. I’m reminded here of the late great Molly Ivins, who famously observed that The very notion that on any given story all you have to do is report what both sides say and […]

Leave a Reply

You can embed videos and photos in your comments just by including the URL. Here's a list of supported websites and instructions.

You can use these HTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>