Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What to tweet and what not to tweet

I've witnessed a lot of idle accusations of bias against journalists who tweet any opinion. If you have an opinion does that make you incapable of being an objective reporter? Or is it only if you share that opinion with others?

It's a fine line to skate along, but could demanding journalists to be totally opinionless hinder their ability to actually gather facts? Often the dismantling of opinion depends on fact.

There was a smattering of a shout down in twitter for those, like me, who have opinions -- often wrong-headed as they may be and then share them in a 140 characters.

"Aren't you suppose to be an objective reporter?" was the kind of smak that would come down the tweets.

The answer is, yes but the reporter/writer in question also took the chance to clarify he was only stating what he personally thought might hapen -- not predicting it would or that he wished it would. It was his opinion on a situation and not a statement of love for a person, in this case a political candidate and their campaign.

I was impressed how the reporter adroitly handled the insult, in a 140 characters or less, but it also left me wondering about the way our own bias informs our reporting. Do you fess up you have them and get on with life or pretend you don't? In some instances you actually won't.

The square root of 11 shouldn't get you too wound up.

The way we often learn fact from fiction is usually by sorting opinion with fact.

Sounds counter-intuitive but if you know your biases ahead of time and understand them you are more likely to avoid leaning on them and may even lean away from them.

Many journalists are so tuned to their bias they make-up for them by being extra-hard on sources or topical presumptions they may personally favor. They are then accused of being biased counter to their own beliefs and that can really steam a person.

I'm sure my opinion on this is flawed but that's also another great thing about being human.
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