I would like to ask a question to my readers, and I trust it may be one that irks even those who typically agree with me. What is the true importance of objectivity in reporting?
Longtime readers of my opinions and posts will know that, every few weeks or so, I will make the point of unequivocally noting that I am not a journalist and Texpatriate is not a newspaper. That is, to say, one should not be so naïve as to rely upon texpate.com as an exhaustible source for information to the detriment of sites such as the Houston Chronicle or the Texas Tribune.
Make no mistake; I am still not a journalist, at least in the contemporary definition of the word. I rarely conduct extensive interviews for my stories and regularly practice analysis & responsive writing rather than original reporting, both of which being invaluable traits of the profession.
The point I make in this disqualification, however, is not that my partisan history or other biases preclude me from contributing relevant stories or news items to the political zeitgeist. In fact, to some extent, I believe that by being forthcoming and “placing my cards on the table,” so to speak, I have most honestly established my true intentions. I ask those who disagree with me, would it be better for me to nefariously hide my true opinions while still advocating for the same category of stories?
Whether it has been more mundane details about the City Council election and upcoming Democratic primaries or the flashier and sexier stories on Ben Hall’s Facebook page and tumultuous tenure as City Attorney, I have always strived to present legitimate news stories to all those interested. Most recently, this has taken the form of weekly summations of the Houston City Council’s meetings, often at a time when the Houston Chronicle declines to expand upon this type of news.
And while I do occasionally infuse my personal opinion into the mix, I have serious doubts as to those who believe it taints the entirety of my work. If you are too dumb to separate those sentences where I make definitive statements about past events and those that include phrases such as “I think” or “I believe,” heavy analysis on local politics may not be right for you. If you do not like the fact that I infuse my opinion, there are plenty of newspapers that would love your business. But I generally receive favorable reviews for these opinions, so I will continue them.
I take, for example, David Jennings of the popular blog Big Jolly Politics as a fantastic example of this principle. David makes a name for himself with reporting the niche field of Harris County Republican gossip and dealings. Most of the time, he has the scoop on a story that nobody else is covering; and his article are chock full of opinions. In fact, these opinions typically consist of at least one ad hominem attack, sometimes even directed towards myself. And yet, the original reporting he does on the Harris County GOP Chairman’s race is still just as valid and just as thought provoking as someone who might not have chosen to engage in partisan name-calling. It does not lessen the final product in any way, shape or form.
I regularly read David’s blog posts, no matter how much I might think he is a reactionary wingnut, and I know he reads my blog posts, no matter how much he might think I am a northeastern, socialist, limousine liberal. Differences in political views do not automatically disqualify the value of any facts from the field he may report or those he has otherwise obtained.
That is the same standard I hope everyone is able to apply to both myself and Texpatriate. I infuse my facts with opinions, but they are not —by any means— indistinguishable. If you agree with my opinions, good for you; if you don’t agree, that is also your prerogative. Either way, what is important is to note the facts put forth in my writing, which are facts irrespective of what I place in the next paragraph.
Noah M. Horwitz published a weekly column, “Civil Affairs,” in a Boston newspaper from 2012-2014. He has since transferred the column’s home to Texpatriate.