I posted this lengthy piece at Facebook about a month ago. I post it here, too, for those who don’t understand why I don’t remain on one political “team.” I’ll start with the first part of it, then link to the full Facebook post. — Quin

 

Please allow this hugely extended point of personal privilege…. It so happens that most of my original posts here on Facebook are merely re-linking, without comment, the pieces I write as a professional journalist. I do NOT like talking politics on Facebook; indeed, by now, I don’t like talking politics at all. The reason I post these pieces is that it is part of my job: In this online world, publications rise or fall based largely on the number of eyeballs that read each story. I am expected to post to social media everything I do, because that’s the only way to reach more eyeballs. So, I apologize for what seems like constant political stuff, but as my job is largely to write about politics, it can’t be helped…..
BUT….. BUT…. What comes next here is an explanation of what that job is. I am an OPINION JOURNALIST. There are two parts to that. First, I openly and honestly label my work as opinion. I strongly believe that if news contains opinion, it should be so labeled, and I believe that there ARE standards of objective reporting that can and should be maintained in “straight news” pieces. As plenty of reporters can attest, when my job has been to edit material in a “straight news” format, I insist that they follow those standards no matter what, and plenty of times find myself scrubbing out conservative opinions/judgments/adjectives from stories even though I agree with them.
But my main job, as I say, is to write opinion.
What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t mean I can just spout off. That wouldn’t be professional. The second part of the equation in my job is that I AM indeed a journalist. Even in writing opinion, standards of good journalism apply. Those standards include ensuring that things I cite as facts are indeed facts; making clear where I am using judgment rather than merely citing facts; providing relevant immediate context to whatever I am writing about; trying to be fair even to those with whom I disagree by at least considering their arguments and motives; and, finally and most importantly, letting evidence lead me to conclusions rather than choosing a conclusion first and then searching for reasons to justify it.
THAT LAST IS IMPORTANT. I do not choose a team and then seek to justify everything that team does, or cheer-lead for it, by concocting, ex post facto, arguments that will lead to the pro-team result that I want. Instead, I try as hard as I possibly can, with great care, to do two things in concert, in a complementary way: 1) Discern the facts and to consistently apply to those facts the stated principles that guide me and that are readily apparent to anyone who is kind enough to regularly read me; and 2) To apply those facts to my principles, again with consistency.
In other words, it’s a constant dance of letting facts inform principles and principles inform facts, but NOT shading the facts in order to reach a desired pre-set conclusion that other people with my political leanings might want me to reach….
[If you cannot read this because you are not on Facebook, but really do want to read it, please email me at [email protected] Thanks.]

 

 

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