Journalists have opinions; that doesn’t make us biased


Kernel Opinion SIG

One of the most common misconceptions about journalists is that we shouldn’t have any opinions, that we should be objective about everything we hear. That is correct, but only to an extent. 

The reality of a person constantly remaining objective is bleak in itself. It just isn’t possible. We all may not have opinions about the same ideas, but we all do have opinions. We’re people, after all.

Sports are not up my alley. I couldn’t tell you my favorite NFL team or name a single quarterback from memory. I have no opinions on sports. But I consider myself politically informed in many aspects of government and can easily carry an opinionated conversation about the president or mayor, whereas someone else perhaps can’t. 

Journalist sports fans cover sports, politically informed journalists cover politics and the likelihood that they have an opinion about how the quarterback played in the game they covered and the way the president sided on an issue they covered is high.

But the argument that journalists are just as entitled to opinions, too, comes down to only one limitation– these opinions, no matter how slight or seemingly insignificant, cannot appear in their work, except commentary pieces.

Any coverage that a trustworthy, informed and unbiased journalist gives covers all sides of what’s presented and gives neither a favorable, nor unfavorable, view.

Journalists report the facts; they report what happens, whether good or bad, and they stick to that and that only. Doing anything otherwise goes against all that a journalist should stand for.

The Society of Professional Journalist code of ethics is one of the greatest examples of the idea that equal coverage and reporting without opinion is a key to journalism. Two of the most important codes in the SPJ code of ethics that journalists should adhere to is to seek truth and report it, and to act independently.

“Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. 

Act Independently

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public”

We will always have opinions, just as non-journalists do. This is one idea that will never change, but another idea that will never change is the separation of those opinions from their work. We will continue to report for you, inform you and give the best equally weighted content you deserve. This is what a journalist is, and that is what a journalist does.