Journalists as robots: the latest chapter

The Sanctity of Journalism is challenged against by those annoying people that have options and bias – like humans are prone to do.

The latest example of human employees being involved in civic life? Employees signing petitions for the recall of Wisconsin’s governor. None of the employees in question cover, or edit those who cover, politics in the state.

It doesn’t matter, publishers across the state moved quickly to remind everyone of the robotic aspirations of journalism – by promising to discipline all those pesky employees.

Robert Niles pens an stellar piece why ever reporters who cover politics should be allowed to express their opinions – provided they explain them.

Niles writes:

It’s past time for news publishers to let go of the fear that if any of their employees do anything political, even on their own time, that action might make readers think badly about the publication. At this point, having readers think anything about a newspaper would mark a step forward.

Having a political opinion isn’t a journalism sin. But hiding one ought to be. Having been on the “other side,” as a source for news stories, little frustrates me more than working with a reporter I know to have personal relationships and opinions that I see are influencing his or her work, but who never discloses those biases to readers.

Let’s stop selling the con that new reporters have no opinions, thoughts, relationships or engagements that influence their work. Let’s get those out in the open when they do affect our work, and use those disclosures as an invitation to better connect with the communities we cover.

I couldn’t agree more.