Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I was not going to comment on James' praise of AP's watchdog journalism since its a debate that I've had with him and the other journalistically inclined blogger on APR a few too many times. Until I discovered this article by the industry's own journal about the exact piece James was so quick to applaud.

The real issue here is the distinction between news, analysis and opinion? I don't want to engage journalism theory - I would certainly be destroyed by James and Gerald. But it seems to me that the line between news, analysis and opinion is problematic. And the question of whether opinion and analysis should be in NEWSpapers is really worth addressing.

A review of recent New York Times "News Analysis" pieces leads me to believe that this type of writhing is designed to argue a point. For example, a January 13 news analysis on Judge Alito is summarized as follows: "Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s judicial philosophy appears to align him with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas," while a news article the same day on Wal-Mart health insurance is summarized: "The Maryland Legislature passed a law that would require Wal-Mart to increase spending on employee health insurance."

News is a statement of fact; analysis is the argument for a specific way of understanding news; opinion is an argument for a specific point of view. I've already argued with James and Gerald that opinion doesn't belong in newspapers. News analysis is the kind of journalism you should find in an intellectual political journal like the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly or The New Republic. Maybe my colleagues can convince me it is the kind of journalism that I should find in the Washington Post or New York Times.


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