Blurred boundaries

In addition to the introspective blog posts that will end up here this semester, there will also be posts that cover the media and how it affects the world around us, and me specifically.  I’m required to blog for another class, as well.  John Robinson’s class is entitled ‘Current Issues in Mass Media’ and will discuss (you guessed it) current issues in mass media.  This class is also in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and will push us to observe media developments and see how journalism is evolving.  The blog posts my classmates and I write will be compiled at so feel free to check it out from time to time, or subscribe to learn a little bit from us.

As many of my friends know, I’m a skeptic when it comes to believing what people tell me they “read in a news article” because, let’s be honest, anyone can get published on the internet (I’m living proof of this).  I always ask what source the information is coming from because it’s unlikely that I’m going to trust data from opposed to a source that has proven itself to be credible.

Even when I’m reading the news myself, browsing Twitter and Facebook or glancing at Google News, I pay attention to the source the information is coming from.  I probably credit this practice to being in a journalism school: I appreciate quality journalism and despite poor journalism because I have learned the difference between the two.

I enjoy reading The New York Times and I’ve noticed that I tend to trust the information more if it’s coming from this publication.  I may need to proceed with caution with The New York Times from now on after reading this article by Margaret Sullivan, the public editor, also published in the New York Times.  The article addressed opinions being included in news stories, an issue that blurs the lines between commentary and news.

Sullivan included commentary from both readers and members of The Time’s editorial staff in the article, and both groups call for a separation.  Andrew Rosenthal works at The New York Times running the opinion-based content.  “I believe that an important line is crossed when first-person, clear opinion or advocacy make their way into the news pages, whether in print or online,” said Rosenthal.

The article went on to pose potential solutions to this issue: the articles could be required to stamp themselves either “News” or “Commentary” or including a logo to signal to readers that it belongs to an opinion-based section of the newspaper.

When reading a story I thought was news, I find it frustrating to find opinions packaged into the content, sometimes in more obvious ways than others.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate writers that write informally and colloquially, but unless I’ve specifically decided to read his or her opinion on a matter, I don’t want it buried in my news.

I hope some sort of solution can be reached at The New York Times, and across news sources everywhere.  The lines need to be drawn.