Editorials, Opinions

Editorial: Separating news and opinions

By
Thursday, September 14, 2017

When seeking fair, balanced reporting on the Brown community, we hope that you’ll turn to The Herald. In addition, our newspaper is a venue for several types of opinion pieces. We recognize that the two can often be confused — a trend we’re hoping to set straight as you continue to read The Herald and other newspapers beyond Brown.

We hope to be as transparent as possible about when our content includes opinion and when it should not. Beyond its regular news coverage, The Herald publishes six types of content that include opinion — columns, op-eds, letters to the editor, editorials, reviews and cartoons. Columns are written by our Herald opinions columnists — who must apply to the job — and edited by our team of opinions editors. The opinions pages are staffed by a team separate from our reporters and editors who create our daily news content. Op-eds are contributed by Brown community members who do not belong to The Herald’s staff, including other students, alums, faculty and staff members and administrators. Letters to the editor typically are written by readers who aim to include a perspective lacking in the newspaper or comment on the way The Herald handled an editorial decision. They might also be a short response to a specific article. Reviewers will offer their criticism and analysis of new movies, art, films, albums or sports. Cartoonists typically present an opinion through emotional appeals, logic or humor. All of these receive a final edit by the editorial board, who correct not only for grammar and style, but also strive to ensure that the piece reasonably defends a position.

The editorial board, currently in its 127th iteration, writes editorials, which assert the opinion of the newspaper editors. The 127th editorial board, which also oversees the day-to-day operations and the Herald’s staff, writes the editorials. We hope that, in this way, editorials will accurately represent the opinions of The Herald’s leadership.

To be clear: While the editorial board does help to shape the daily coverage of the news section, we teach our reporters to abide by journalistic integrity and to report on subjects as objectively as possible. Of course, The Herald recognizes that pure objectivity is unachievable. Both the experiences of the writers and the institution around them can shape their perspective — but we always aim for fairness and balance in all of our news reporting. If you don’t believe we have been fair, talk to us by submitting a letter to the editor to set the record straight.

In June, the Duke Reporters’ lab found that only 40 percent of large news organizations signal the type of article for their readers online. In the pages of the newspaper, we do our best to separate news from opinion. In the print edition, all opinion-based content is labeled under “Commentary” at the top of the page. Online, we label editorials with “Editorial:” and opinions columns with the author’s name — both in the headline and the byline to ensure clarity.

Our opinion writing, in addition to our daily news coverage, serves our journalistic mission: to provide people with the information they need to be good citizens and make rational choices. We hope that both types of content we provide will inform, entertain and serve as a spark for discussion within the Brown community.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s 127th editorial board: Lauren Aratani ’18, Matthew Brownsword ’18, Rebecca Ellis ’18 and Kate Talerico ’18.