Why Moderator Prefers Op-Eds

In a perfect world, the American press would maintain a sense of journalistic objectivity. Reporters would make a genuine effort to honestly moderate and report the news. They wouldn’t favor a particular side when facts were disputed. They would separate their own views and preferences from their day-to-day work.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and it’s nearly impossible to write a truly objective news story.

Here’s a quick anecdote you might appreciate:

Earlier this year, when conducting research for Moderator, we spoke with the former CEO and Publisher of a major US newspaper. We asked him whether he was concerned by claims that his paper leaned left. He was not concerned — he saw his paper’s left-leaning bias as a business necessity.

This publisher explained that his paper had to focus on news stories and headlines that were more pleasing to liberals due to its geography and subscriber demographics. If he hired more conservative reporters, he feared that his left-leaning subscriber base would switch to free online publications. CEOs of right-leaning publications likely face similar pressures.

At Moderator, we understand where this former CEO was coming from. His publication’s actions make good business sense. However, we feel that these business decisions are problematic because most publications like his still proclaim a deep commitment to ‘journalistic objectivity’.

Today, many news stories that claim to be ‘objective’ are just as biased as op-eds.

Although bias in traditional news stories may be more subtle than that of op-eds, it manifests itself in the placement of news stories on a web page, in a reporter’s tone or choice of phrase, and in the inclusion (or exclusion) of relevant facts.

At Moderator, we only highlight op-eds, not traditional news stories. We believe that this is a more honest way to engage with readers. When our readers know that an article represents an individual’s opinion, they read it with a more critical eye. They seek to balance what they read with an view from the other side.

Finally, we like op-eds because they offer constructive suggestions in addition to describing a problem. Since op-ed authors are not bound by a commitment to objectivity, they often offer recommendations. Many op-eds go beyond simply describing a problem and propose solutions. We think this encourages the right kind of debate.

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