The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

Advocating Blues

 The advent of advocacy journalism poses many potential pitfalls.  The journalist is entrusted by readers to present truths through a neutral eye.  In extreme situations of human suffering the journalist must struggle mightily with removing emotion from reporting.  Reporting that is dry is also boring; rarely do readers make it to the end of articles.  Alternatively reporting full of emotive innuendo is hard to trust; again readers have a hard time finishing articles.  Thus, like many things in life, a balance of both bias and neutrality, writing both poignant and stoic, is necessary for trustworthy yet readable journalism. 

This leaves advocacy journalism in an ambiguous location, certainly far from hard news.  There is a place for advocacy journalism in the literary realm, especially considering the atrocities occurring on a daily basis throughout the world.  This advocacy journalism, reporting to motivate readers to react in a way to support a cause, needs to be clearly defined when in print.  Newspapers should elucidate the author’s employer or association with advocacy groups, as most major papers do.  Further these articles should only be run in op-ed sections of the paper, removing the threat of even a novice newspaper reader to view them as hard news stories.  Finally, perhaps most importantly, counter viewpoints to the advocate should be provided, or in clear moral cases fact checking should be employed.  Advocacy journalism is most effective when a dialogue is started on a topic, and dialogue requires contrasting viewpoints. 

There is a segment of the population that would argue that advocacy journalism is not a real practice of journalism; that facts should only be reported from an unbiased perspective with no motivation to persuade readers.  There are events throughout human history that defy this logic, events so loathsome that any news of the subject to alert people to the destruction is necessary, even if that report comes from a biased perspective.  Clearly, it is better to have biased information on something than no information at all.  Benefit the reader with the ability to decipher farcical information, do not eliminate the ability to reach that information. 

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