Last summer, Carlo wrote up a fantastic analysis of what's wrong with journalism
, which highlights the false focus on objectivity. The point he makes is that there's nothing wrong with reporting the facts, but people get value from the interpretation, analysis and insight that people provide around the facts. That's what we've always tried to do around here at Techdirt. I, personally, chuckle whenever anyone complains about "bias" or a lack of objectivity here. We've never claimed to be reporters or journalists. We've never claimed to be objective. From the very beginning of this site's existence (I know, since I was there), it has always been about giving our opinion and analysis of the news. If we don't have an opinion on something, we probably are a lot less interested in writing about it. And, despite the anger by a small subset at our "non-journalism," we've found that most of our readers read us because they value that opinion and analysis. In fact, in the coming months, expect to see us dive even further into insight and analysis.
That's why it's interesting to see reporters coming to terms with new studies suggesting that opinions are exactly what younger people are looking for in their news
. The editorial worries that this inevitably results in the lowest common denominator of angry commentators like those you see on the various cable news channels, but that need not be the case. The thing is, people don't value opinions for the sake of opinions -- they value opinions based on facts (which is often missing from cable news). That is, just because people want opinions, it doesn't mean that the facts go out the window. They want to know the facts, and then they want to see the interpretation of it. They mostly understand opinion for what it is, knowing that the analysis is based on the facts, and that leads to other interpretations and analysis.
In fact, despite the claims of an internet "echo chamber," one of the things that makes the internet such an interesting medium, is the idea that anyone can respond and discuss stuff. If someone disagrees with our interpretation of the facts, we want to know about it, and we want to discuss it. That's how we all learn and we all become smarter. So those in the news business shouldn't fret the value that people put on opinions these days. Those opinions still need a factual basis, and the ensuing discussion often highlights more important finer points that are missed if you're just staring at the objective facts all day. But that's only going to happen if traditional news organizations recognize the value of opinions -- and the ability for people to talkback and discuss those opinions (and the facts they're based on).
So far, though, that doesn't appear to be happening. Tim Lee
points us to an LA Times editorial that gets plenty of facts wrong while trashing bloggers
as being only interested in opinion. Yes, certainly, there are some folks out there who are only in it to make a point or be heard. But it's the combination of facts and opinion and analysis that has the chance to make these discussions that much more meaningful. It doesn't mean that you do one side without the other. It means, both are needed together.