Opinion Is NOT Analysis

Five years ago, Marissa Nelson, Senior Director of Digital at CBC News, wrote a series of articles on,” Journalism in the Digital Age.” The Canadian Broadcast Corporation prides itself on its standards; she was fair and specific on several topics. One drew my interest: the differences between analysis and opinion.

Quotes from the CBC “Journalistic Standards and Practices.”

• Analysis

When appropriate, news and current affairs staff offer reports we refer to as “analysis”. Here, reporters may make observations and draw conclusions based on facts as well as their own experience and expertise.

Their intent is to give the audience insight into the true nature of events, not to be a forum for the personal opinions or preferences of the author.

• Expression of Opinion

Our programs and platforms allow for the expression of a particular perspective or point of view. This content adds public understanding and debate on the issues of the day.

When presenting content (programs, program segments, or digital content) where a single opinion or point of view is featured, we ensure that a diversity of perspective is provided across a network or platform and in an appropriate time frame.
When we choose to present a single point of view:

o it is clearly labeled, and
o it does not misrepresent other points of view.

Our value of impartiality precludes our news and current affairs staff from expressing their personal opinions on matters of controversy on all our platforms.

• Designated Opinion Columnist

On an exceptional basis, the Editor in Chief may also choose to appoint certain journalists as columnists, who have licence to express their opinions. In order to protect the integrity of CBC’s journalism, we will restrict the role of such columnists to opinion and commentary, which will be clearly identified.

• Commentators and Guests

CBC, in its programming, over time, provides a wide range of comment and opinion on significant issues.

We achieve balance by featuring multiple perspectives and points of view to reflect a diversity of opinion.

It is important to mention any association, affiliation or special interest a guest or commentator may have so that the public can fully understand that person’s perspective.

The Washington Post recently re-published an article by Ishaan Tharoor, The Global Divide Between Those Who Dream and Those Who Fear. It was labeled, “WorldView” Analysis. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/07/the-global-divide-between-those-who-dream-and-those-who-fear/?nid&utm_term=.20997e3b5af0

I do not know where others draw the line, but this article falls clearly in the opinion category. I fault the Washington Post for mislabeling such an obviously slanted article.

Ishaan Tharoor is a widely publicized writer and the son of Shashi Tharoor.  He is a writer for The Washington Post, and a former Senior Editor of Time Magazine.

The article is mostly about United States immigration policy (58% of word count). It mentions Britain (37%), and Germany (5%).

The article opens with an unsupported statement about 800,000 DACA participants; the statement characterizes the whole group as “…people who know no real home other than the United States, who are productive members of the American workforce, sometimes serve in the U.S. military and abide by the nation’s laws.” I would wager that this description does not apply to every member of this group.

John Lott published a study that found that, in Arizona, illegal immigrants who met the age requirements for DACA were overrepresented in the prison population.

Harvard researcher Roberto G. Gonzalez surveyed more than 2,000 DACA recipients about their education levels. His studies show 22% of DACA members have a bachelor’s degree; 21% have dropped out of high school; (note: high school diploma is a requirement for DACA)

The New American Economy, a nonpartisan immigration reform group, analyzed 2013 – 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) data and found that 17 percent of 1.3 million DACA-eligible immigrants have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Language: Mr. Tharoor uses terms sympathetic for DACA and critical of American government: “Their fates — in many instances, those of their families — hang in the balance as the White House dangles red meat to its right-wing base.” And: “This is all aside from the moral argument against shattering the lives of close to a million people who see themselves as Americans, an act that former president Barack Obama called both “cruel” and “self-defeating.” He calls opposition to untethered immigration “republic of fear.” Liberal immigration he dubs, “republic of dreams.”

Americans live in an environment of razor-thin distinctions on many topics. I feel Mr. Tharoor misused his privilege as a journalist by presenting his political and social opinions as analysis. The Washington Post could take some or all the responsibility.

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