I’m writing this blog more as a question than an answer. A professional journalist recommended the book Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. Although I am not too far into it (Read: Chapter 1), it has gotten me thinking about how, if ever, we know if information is true. In any story, it depends on who you ask. So then, how do you determine what angle to take? Is it the side that gives the most quotes? How do you know if a story is really balanced in this case?
This was especially problematic when I wrote an article last year about allegations against Planned Parenthood. At the time, I summed it up by saying, “The edited four-minute video shows a conversation between a Planned Parenthood employee and an actor portraying a 14-year-old seeking an abortion. The conversation alludes to statutory rape by the girl’s 31-year-old boyfriend and the possibility of her receiving an abortion without parental consent.”
The woman who framed the story (in other words, she posed as the 14-year-old and had her friend film the encounter) was more than willing to talk. In fact, she has received national recognition for her set ups (Name: Lila Rose, a University of California-Los Angeles senior and president of Live Action). But Planned Parenthood remained silent. It’s impossible to appear unbiased when a source like Planned Parenthood will not speak about an incident like this one.
So, who do you trust as a journalist? The people who won’t speak, or those who published a short video implying wrongdoing?
I’ll let you know when I have an answer.