When I was a senior in high school I took a class on journalism. The first thing the teacher said was, “Good morning class.” The second thing he said was, “True journalists report the facts. The who, what, when, where, why, and how.” Journalists are supposed to be unbiased, so why are so many newspapers slanted towards one point of view?
The answer to this is easy. The writers themselves report the facts, and tell it like it may be. The job of interpretation rests solely on the editors. They are the people who decide what stays, or goes. I bear no malice towards editors, and have the utmost respect for the amount of work they do. The only problem I have is their use of the newspapers as a vehicle to push their personal, or political, agenda.
Those who have read my past blogs know I don’t go in for rants, and this blog is no exception. I said all that to say this. If you use the newspapers, or even the internet, for researching an article or essay, don’t take it for granted that you are getting 100 percent accurate information.
When those are the only sources you use, you are taking the easy road, and unintentionally helping to spread someone else’s agenda. If you are looking to report the truth, and you want the readers to decide for themselves the interpretation, you are going to have to dig a little deeper.
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you read an article about the condition of the economy. Some say it’s getting better this year, and others say it’s going to take a few years. There is obvious confusion to who’s right, but if you write an article on the economy and your only source is one paper, you will only have one side of the argument. Your article will not have all the facts that make it true.
A little extra research can truly go a long way. When you are taking notes for your article, don’t forget to verify the facts. If you have to, call the experts in the field. With the economy, check with the Federal Reserve Bank, The New York Stock Exchange, anyone who might know what’s really going on.
Do a little background research. I once heard someone say that everything that happens today has a starting point, you just have to be willing to follow the trail backwards. This is something many history writers, and biographers, do. They start from the way things are now, and work their way back.
Unless you are writing an article for a daily newspaper, or a weekly tabloid, you have time to get your facts straight. Don’t be afraid of taking one to two weeks to gather the correct information. No one ever said writing was easy.
Gather more than you need. Remember, the more information you gather, the more accurate your article will become. Another advantage to this is you may have enough information for a series of articles, or even better, a book.
When writing to inform, don’t take any source for granted, and don’t be afraid to dig deep in research. A well written article, that has been properly researched, will allow the readers to get all the facts. From this they can reach educated conclusions, and you will be considered a good source of information.
Challenge: Take any newspaper article that can be argued, and do a little research to discover something new.