Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rosen on NPR and the act of "he said, she said" reporting

Jay Rosen defines "he said, she said" reporting thus:

“He said, she said” journalism means…

  • There’s a public dispute.
  • The dispute makes news.
  • No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story, even though they are in some sense the reason for the story. (Under the “conflict makes news” test.)
  • The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the report declines to make use of them.
  • The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes.
A few weeks ago, Rosen listened to a NPR report on new licensing restrictions for abortion clinics in Kansas, in which critics asserted the regulations were an attempt to drive the clinics out of business and proponents claimed they were common sense public health practices, while NPR didn't make an effort to evaluate either set of claims.

And then he wrote a thoughtful post about it, well worth reading and considering.

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