WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Sun - 21.12.2014


Is the distinction between news and opinion softening?

Is the distinction between news and opinion softening?

The New York Times, in a letter reported by Joshua Benton on the Nieman Lab, announced that starting Sunday June 26 the Week in Review section will be reinvented, being renamed Sunday Review and offering new features and a new way to present analysis and opinion pieces.

An internal memo already announced the overhaul of the section last February. The project was presented as a reinvention of the Sunday commentary section, produced jointly by the Op-Ed columnists, editorialists, outside opinion writers, all in the effort of expanding and enhancing the interaction with readers.

As the original memo to staff underlined, the important distinction between news and opinion will not be relaxed in the new section: "Reporters and editors who work in the newsroom will observe the boundary between analysis (which supplies context, explores trends, weighs assertions against evidence) and opinion (which may be partisan or ideological and advocate particular outcomes)", outgoing executive editor Bill Keller and editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal wrote.

However, what Benton stressed in commenting on the recent announcement is that the Times seems not entirely satisfied with the ancient division between opinion and news and even between opinion and analysis, at least from a geographic, or better, visual point of view. What the paper is offering is a more integrated way to propose and display them. Even if the article underlined that the will be clearly labelled to be distinguished, "analysis and opinion may be presented with each other in themed packages" and will be run side-by-side.

In Benton's opinion this boundary's dwindle reflects the changes Internet introduced in the way we consume news online. Google News, Twitter and Facebook all cooperated to make the demarcation line thinner, grouping stories into clusters and often not offering "immediate cues for which journalistic bucket the story you are about to read fits into".

Does a more integrated way of displaying and consuming news online affect the Anglo-Saxon approach to journalism, which keeps opinion clearly isolated from news? And if it does, what kind of content does this affect?

Sources: New York Times, Nieman Lab, Editors Weblog


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Author

Federica Cherubini's picture

Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-06-21 18:43

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.


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