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Injecting opinions in straight news stories

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DemoChristian, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. This A.P. story on American Idol...


    ...includes the graph, "The standouts were Carly Smithson ('Come Together'), Brooke White ('Let It Be'), David Cook ('Eleanor Rigby') and Chikezie ('She's A Woman')."

    Also, "David Archuleta, whose cover of Lennon's 'Imagine' drew heaps of praise two weeks ago, showed that he's merely mortal when he flubbed the lyrics to 'We Can Work It Out.'"

    Now, I realize this is an article about a TV show, but am I the only one who hates to see reporters just randomly throw in their opinions like that? Couldn't they have played it straighter by saying that those four earned rave reviews while Archuleta forgot the lyrics one week after earning praise for "Imagine?"

    Look beyond the subject matter and tell me, do you agree that this type of writing is a problem?
  2. MartinEnigmatica

    MartinEnigmatica Active Member

    Well, it's not as if the writer said Archuleta was horrible, with no explanation. As for the 'standouts' graf, the writer could have illustrated why a little better - like you said, if all three judges were in agreement, and gave positive reviews...thus, they were standouts.

    I'm not sure there's too much I can complain about, considering there's a fair share of sportswriting that does exactly what you excerpted above. There are plenty of game stories that get written with grafs like this:

    "David Archuleta, whose two-hit shutout drew heaps of praise two weeks ago, showed that he's merely mortal when he gave up five runs in five innings last night in a 7-3 loss."
  3. I agree we're guilty of it. I have done it as well, but I'm trying real hard to be the good shepherd (/pulpfiction), and it just really struck me when I read those paragrahs.
  4. The Granny

    The Granny Guest

    Has it come to this? We're considering anything related to American Idol as "straight" and "news."
  5. I have no problem with this. I think it works because of the subject matter. Plus, it's not pure opinion. The reporter (ideally) is not an idiot. They can see and hear the judges' and audience reactions and get reaction backstage to figure out who the front runners are.

    If the reporter said Carly was the best of the night - I would have a problem with that. But s/he didn't and I'm glad the reporter cut through all the bullshit for me.

    You see this in sports and news all the time. Game stories, like ME was saying, and meetings and political functions.

    The reporter can be and should be honest without being biased.
  6. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Is it OK to say LeBron James dominated a game in a gamer when he scores 45 and pulls down 15 rebounds?
  7. DougDascenzo

    DougDascenzo Member


    Impossible to look beyond the subject matter here, Demo. Serious journalism questions can be raised about serious journalism. American Idol recaps simply don't qualify.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Yes, but also put some tidbits of what he did besides stats to tell the reader that.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    On Oct. 9. 1956 (that's nearly 52 years ago for the mathematically challenged among us), the following lede appreaed in the New York Daily News:

    "The imperfect man pitched a perfect game."

    It is considered one of the cleanest, simplest ledes ever written.
    It appeared under the byline of Joe Trimble, although it is common knowledge that the words came from Dick Young.

    And it expresses the opinion that Don Larsen was "the imperfect man."

    You youngsters worry way too much about this. Like it or not, ever story you write - gamer, feature, column -- is a reflection of your opinion of what happened.
    It is, in fact, your job.
  10. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Was Dick Young blacklisted or something? Why not his byline?
  11. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Here's how the story goes, Dools:

    Trimble was writing the gamer. Was totally overwhelmed by the moment. Couldn't write what he thought was a worthy lede. Young -- the columnist -- sat down at rimble's typewriter, typed in that lede and said: There. Now write the story.
  12. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Well said spnited.
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