My view on NPR and the firing of Juan Williams

I posted this blog on my internships website but I thought I would share it with you all as well. Let me know what you think!

The firing of NPR’s Juan Williams has been all over the news. As a senior journalism student I realize that situations like these have an impact on how I deal with different journalists everyday. This story has been a hot topic for discussion in almost all of my journalism classes. Everyone has varying opinions on the subject and has voiced them loud and clear.

 

News sources are saying that NPR was right to fire him and others are saying he was mistreated. The story has stirred up even more discussion because NPR is typically linked to more liberal journalism and Fox News is look at as a conservative news organization. How was he able to work at both places and not upset the other one?

 

When we started digging into the story, we found more information than we expected.  Williams had been working for both Fox News and NPR since 1999. They had a mutual relationship for more than a decade. After Williams made some “offensive” comments NPR decided they could no longer continue their relationship.

 

What is incredible is that these vastly different news sources had a similar news analyst for so long without many problems. That is not to say that Williams shied away from contentious remarks. In 2009, he made some comments about Michelle Obama that many took to be offensive.

 

Williams worked as a news analyst at both NPR and Fox News. By definition, a news analyst is a commentator. They must comment on facts, but does that mean these comments must be factual? Our question is, how does he truthfully express his opinion on different news stories without the fear of offending one of his employers?

 

Juan Williams had to be careful about what he said, when he said it and where he said it. Honestly, we’re surprised that he was able to last as long as he did. It also makes us wonder what he wishes he could have said had he not been hired by two different companies.

 

We also wonder how news analysts (aka, commentators) will ever voice their own, presumably insightful, opinions if their views must also reflect the political stance of an employer or, in Williams’ case, employers. Are they ever saying exactly what they want or are they holding back?

 

The Koroberi team includes several journalists. We interact with them on a daily basis.  This story makes us wonder about this “Analysis” style of reporting – when are we hearing their opinion and when are we hearing facts? Should there be a clearer demarcation line on which is which? Are we being misled and don’t even know it?

 

We also want journalists to be true to themselves. We might not agree with what Williams’ said, but he was only doing his job- to give his opinions, not NPR’s.

We want the truth. We also want to know who we are getting the truth from and why. The public wants to know that the opinions are from the journalists and not the big media machines. Hopefully Juan Williams will have a successful time at Fox News and he will finally be able to express his opinion without walking a political tightrope about whose bias he has to support in the meantime.

 

 

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