Opinion and accuracy

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I read something interesting in the New York times recently. The piece was called The Privileges of Opinion, the Obligations of Fact

I find this an interesting piece on the relationship of fact to opinion in the practice of journalism. It should have some relationship to discussions of how historians operate, and the difference between historians and polemicists. I see the historian much like the journalist, and the polemicist like the opinion columnist. Some of the salient points:

"But who is to say what is factually accurate? Or whether a quotation is misrepresented? Or whether facts are used or misused in such a fashion as to render a columnist's opinion unfair? Or even whether fairness has anything to do with opinion in the first place?"

"The opinion writer chooses which facts to present, and which to withhold. He can paint individuals he likes as paragons, and those he disdains as scoundrels. The more scurrilous practitioners rely on indirection and innuendo, nestling together in a bed of lush sophistry. I sometimes think opinion columns ought to carry a warning: "The following is solely the opinion of the author, supported by data I alone have chosen to include. Live with it." Opinion is inherently unfair."

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on April 2, 2004 8:37 PM.

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