Journalists: Judge and be judged
Journalists use it all the time. It is something we rely on to do our jobs, whether we are reporters or editors, beginners or veterans. Online or print. Or, most often, both.
Readers and viewers use their judgment, too, when they assess us.
Two stories in the news recently fall into the category, “Don’t rush to judgment.” That’s the kind of cautionary advice that we all could and should remember from time to time.
- Convicted financier Bernie Madoff’s son, Mark, commits suicide on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest
- Dallas Cowboys running back Tashard Choice gets autograph of competitor Michael Vick after a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles
You’re probably familiar with both stories. When you first heard about them, what was your initial reaction?
- That Mark Madoff was guilty of something? That he was innocent of any wrongdoing? That he killed himself out of despair?
- That Choice disrespected his team? That he was only doing it as a kind gesture for his 2-year-old nephew? That he was right to apologize? That there was no need for an apology?
A good exercise would be to search for stories from many news and sports outlets that reported these stories. Read them and study them. Look for key phrases that might reveal a judgment of any kind or a bias by the writer. As well, look for writing that depicts a neutral reporting of the news. Watch for balance. Assess the sourcing. Consider quotes from key people.
Judgment. There are many ways to use it.
Use your own judgment to evaluate the judgment of others. And remember that others will be doing the same of you and your work.