Monday, January 24, 2011

Reflection No.1 — Cheng Zhi Chao

1. Based on your understanding of facts and opinions, why do you think this is important for a journalist/ reporter in the world of online news reporting?

I think that this is important as news articles are to inform people about facts and actual events that happened. Facts are true statements, but opinions are other people's thinking and their feelings about that particular incident. The opinions may or may not be true, and these should not be included in news articles together with the facts as they may mislead the readers into thinking that the opinions are what really happened. In fact, the facts should not also be supported by an opinion or that particular fact will not make sense. However, opinions may be written as direct and indirect quotes from the person or witness to avoid confusion of what is a fact and what is a opinion. The facts and opinions should also be written in different parts of the article.

2. How can some of the problems raised in the articles be controlled?

These problems can be controlled by sorting out different statements as fact or fiction. For example, we can categorize the information as facts as they have keywords like "confirmed" or "discovered", and opinions that have keywords like "feels that" or "thinks that". With this method the writers can categorize different facts and opinions and know which pieces of information are valid or of relevance to what they are writing. Another way is to find out the source of that particular piece of information. The writer will have to then determine if the source is a reliable one. For example, if information about nuclear fissions was from a nuclear physicist who has had 30 years of experience in the particular field, the information he gives may be facts as he is well acquainted with the subject. However, if the information is obtained from a First-Year student under the same professor, he or she may not know as much and some of the information they give may be opinionated or biased.

3. What are some responsibilities of discerning readers?

Readers who are able to tell apart facts and opinions can try to be alert when reading articles and know what is true and what is not. If they find that the reporter or writer of the article is writing about false facts, they should contact the publisher about the mistakes. As for how to determine which are false and which are real, the reader may use their current knowledge of the topic to interpret fact and opinion.

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