Balance is a key ingredient to life, food portioning and cooking, yet it is also important in journalistic writing. No writer wants to be so honest that it enrages half the readers, or so dishonest that they are discredited. It takes a balance of being honest and appearing honest. Honestly, it never occurred to me that in being honest I may not appear honest. Being honest comes with being accurate, avoiding generalizations/overblown statements and avoiding assumptions. Good writing strays from ambiguity. Respecting the reader means not shouting at them with fonts, exclamations points and italics, not embellishing the story and not editorializing the story. The journalist provides the fact – not the truth – the reader creates the truth. Creating your own conclusion disrupts your fairness and balance.
I know it’s crazy, but journalism requires you to think. A journalist should show up prepared and ready to ask the tough questions that encourage the story and help the reader out. It is not about the writer, it’s about the reader. The bias and the credit don’t matter unless the reader says so. The skill it takes for writers to put themselves and their egos second comes with time – as does thinking critically.