Not that it makes much difference, but in my just-previous post addressing the firing by NPR of Juan Williams I referred to him as a “commentator”. But I came to realize that NPR refers to him as having been a news “analyst” and furthermore, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller makes a distinction between the two terms in explaining why NPR feels William’s remarks about his personal feelings were out of line.
The distinction really is not that clear. When I took newspaper type journalism in college I was told that opinion pieces belong on the opinion page, not the regular news columns, except that one could run what is called an “analysis” piece, if marked as such, among the regular news columns and it could include opinions by the author. In addition there is a further muddying of the waters of objectivity in most (good) news stories in that the writer will feel it necessary to provide some at least limited background information to explain what people are talking about or even to point out an inconsistency, such as when a politician claims to be in favor of one thing but it is pointed out by the writer that the day before he said something entirely opposite.
(Outisde of journalism, I could see a real difference between a written report, such as on an investment, that offers a true objective analysis, the pros and cons, if you will, and a promotional flyer, which of course would only tout the claimed merits of something.)
One more thing, even though I continue to question the judgment and motives of NPR, which does receive public funding, for firing Williams, I also question Williams’ credibility for even being associated with FOX News. Perhaps it’s the millions of dollars FOX offers. Money makes ethics fly out the window.
Journalism is a strange business. Being a former working journalist, I have true empathy for all those journalists who worked so diligently for all those years for such low pay only to see these hot-shot TV and Cable TV so-called journalists pull down multi-million dollar salaries with some or many letting their ethics be compromised along the way.
I do not think that money always corrupts people, but at the same time I have observed that it often does.
I’ve gone a little crazy on this link to articles thing, but a good discussion on the Williams affair can be seen at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/juan-williams-offends-npr/?hp