Podcast Teaser: Balancing act is vital in journalism

By Denis Grignon

Podcast Teaser: Balancing act is vital

More than 30 years ago, when I was a young and green and still-a-very-much-learning-my-craft journalist in Ottawa, I was given some words of wisdom that, ever since, I’ve always strived to adhere to.

“As a reporter, you can never be unbiased,” my good friend and a veteran of both print and broadcast media had warned me. His point was that we’re all human beings, not robots, and therefore have opinions – and that journalists have plenty of them. “But,” he stressed, “as a reporter you can, and must, always be fair.”

It’s important, here, to make the distinction between a reporter and a columnist – the latter uses their space to espouse and expound on an opinion, which, if they’re doing their job properly, is still based on research and reason.

A reporter, conversely — (I’m not talking to you, Fox News and your ilk) — must strive for balance.

Indeed, my friend’s advice was top of my mind – and, being honest, a personal challenge — when I was putting together the most recent 30 of The Advocate Podcast. It includes a segment that features points-of-view from both sides of an issue that has, for about a decade, created two very different camps in Kawartha Lakes. One wants City Council to permit ATVs to travel along designated streets in Lindsay. The other does not.

Indeed, I was a vocal proponent of one of those sides at a public meeting about 10 years ago and in a follow-up letter to the editor of our local newspaper at the time. So, it was understandable when one of the parties I had approached about presenting their case, in a strictly structured segment for the program, was apprehensive – skeptical even, since that person was well aware of my personal stance.

Fair enough. And I applaud that person for still agreeing to participate after I made it clear that it’d be a balanced, equal-time presentation preceded by a sober, scripted introduction. Some might even say my introduction of the segment was emotionless. Better that than bias, I say.

Yet, after hearing the pro/con segment, an acquaintance guessed that I was sympathetic to one camp over the other. That they guessed the wrong camp was actually reassuring that I hadn’t tipped my true hand. And it made me grateful for that good friend’s advice more than 30 years ago.

You can read more about the issue of permitting ATVs on Lindsay streets here and here. 

Denis Grignon is the producer/host of The Advocate Podcast: Stories from Kawartha Lakes, brought to you by Wards Lawyers. Download/stream all episodes for free on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

1 Comment

  1. Mike says:

    Unbiased ‘reporters’ don’t exist in the West anymore. The ‘media’ does not report, it attempts to influence and sway opinion.

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