In the May 14, 2001 issue of the New York Times, a featured cover story about President Bush and his recent efforts to gain support for his plan to find more energy sources for the U.S. caught my attention. After stomaching two articles addressing the topic, I left the paper at Downer. The reason I chose not to read any more of the newspaper was because the style in which the article was written was so subjective that it was practically indistinguishable from an editorial.I understand that newspapers publish articles with what is known as a “political slant,” and even endorse certain presidential candidates, but I feel that the editorial board of the New York Times needs to make a serious change with regard to its standards of objectivity.
The most striking aspect of the two articles was the editorializing. One of the responsibilities of a journalist is to report the facts, as seen from all sides, as objectively as possible. Of course, this task involves a necessary amount of editorializing; no one wants to read a list of dates, people, and events without some sort of cohesion between them.
However, the writers of these two articles are guilty of a one-sided style of fact-interpretation. Basically, they present an argument from the right, and explain how the left counters that point. Then they present an argument from the left, and move on.
This approach to journalism made reading the article almost uninformative because as a Bush supporter (for the most part), I began to anticipate the next instance of biased journalism instead of concentrating on the facts and interpreting them for myself.
In a way, they undercut their own efforts to affect the public by putting Bush supporters on the defensive when reading the articles. I found only one valid criticism of Bush’s energy plan, but since I was so ready to refute a prejudiced claim, it is possible (even probable) that there were several more.
I do not mean to ignore the political views of other, right wing newspapers. On the same day of the publication of the aforementioned articles, the Chicago Tribune (which endorsed Bush during the election) ran a front-page article entitled, “Bush’s Stock Rising in Illinois.” Although this article certainly addresses a favorable outlook on the popularity of the Republican Party (and seems to be about eight or nine months too late), a look at the writing shows it to be a cleaner, more objective presentation of facts than what is seen in the New York Times.
I hope that reading this editorial has been informative, but more importantly I hope that this will inspire you to pick up a copy of the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune and compare the presentation of facts, at least once, and decide for yourself which one you would prefer for objective information.