Trust in journalists’ biases
One of the most talked-about articles in media circles over the weekend was Axios CEO Jim VandeHei’s 4 ways to fix “fake news.”
In particular, the suggestion that:
“News organizations should ban their reporters from doing anything on social media — especially Twitter — beyond sharing stories. Snark, jokes and blatant opinion are showing your hand, and it always seems to be the left one. This makes it impossible to win back the skeptics.”
This is a particularly extreme version of a view that crops up regularly from editors and executives who think that the best way to deal with accusations of bias is to completely hide all evidence of biases.
Accusing media organisations of bias is silly because of course they’re biased. Media organisations aren’t staffed by robots, they’re staffed by humans who naturally have opinions. Even if they work for a publication that emphasises impartiality, the way they execute that impartiality will be based on their life experiences and personal judgements – their biases.
The best way for readers to understand why the stories they read are the way they are is to see journalists’ personal sides. If, for example, I see Mike Isaac
’s snarky tweets, and his tweets about music and life in his local area, I trust his stories all the more - I have an idea about the person who wrote them. If I read a story by a journalist who only ever tweets links to their stories I’m more likely to wonder what it is they’re hiding.
It should be completely optional for journalists to have a social media presence, but to say them doing so reduces trust in the media is a simplistic view to say the least.
Karen K. Ho has a good Twitter thread that makes more solid arguments against VandeHei here