Letter to the Editor – balance and neutrality in the media

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Dear Editor,

As a recent transplant to North Grenville (and indeed Canada), I’ve found Dr Shanahan’s articles about the history of the region both interesting and informative. In his recent article, Dr Shanahan raised an interesting point regarding balance and neutrality in the media. The fundamental function of the press is to report news accurately, but this does not equate to balance, and reporting both sides can give a false sense of the accuracy of the claims from either side. To repeat an oft-quoted phrase: “if one person says it is raining and another person says it is dry, it is the journalist’s role to determine which statement is accurate”.

Factual events should be reported fairly and accurately, but it is entirely reasonable for the editorial side of the publication to take a stance on matters of the day, provided this is clearly in the comment and opinion section. Newspaper campaigns can be powerful things and can show the true strength of feeling in a community about an issue. 

As the legendary editor and owner of The Manchester Guardian once said: “facts are sacred but comment is free”. 

Steve Gabell
Kemptville

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