The media are the gatekeepers of society. They determine the public’s social reality and their views of the world. Therefore, they must be objective and balanced in reporting all issues impacting the community.
Failure to present all sides of an issue may violate standards in journalism, endanger citizens, and decrease public trust in the media.
Read on to discover how balanced coverage impacts the media and society.
What Does Balanced Coverage Mean in Terms of News Reporting?
Balanced coverage refers to a newsroom’s commitment to providing a comprehensive and fair narrative of events, no matter who or what is involved. Journalists must strive to present all sides of an issue and avoid bias in their reporting.
For example, when describing a natural disaster such as a fire or a flood, the media must be objective. They cannot omit unfavorable facts or opinions that favor the narrative of a particular group.
A news article should not focus solely on how the disaster benefited the community. Instead, it should include the perspective of people who lost their homes or businesses due to the disaster. It should also cover the actions or inactions of government officials who failed to prepare in time or were unable to contain the damage.
To achieve this balance, reporters must be vigilant about verifying information and sources and understanding the context of an event or story. Media coverage of seemingly straightforward events can also exhibit bias when they don’t ask the right questions.
The Need for Balance: Why Is It Important to Have a Variety of Sources When Reporting on a Story?
Writing a story requires sources. Journalists rely on sources to gain insight into events, people, places, and trends. Sources also help journalists gain the trust of the public.
However, reporters should not depend on a single source – if they can help it. Relying on a single source may bias the story, particularly if the person has a bias and seeks to get a particular message across to the public.
A story built on agenda can cause chaos, disharmony, and conflict in a community. As a result, journalists must make it a point to reach out to varied sources, including government representatives, group members, and experts in the particular field.
These sources can then provide multiple perspectives of the issue and point to any factors that may have influenced the situation or outcome.
A mix of sources adds credibility to a story because the reader can analyze information from various perspectives and come to an independent conclusion about the credibility of each side.
Consistent and balanced coverage is necessary to maintain public trust in the media and society because fairness and accuracy are essential to ethical reporting.
How Can Reporters Ensure They Are Providing Balanced Coverage?
Providing balanced coverage requires research and thorough investigation in reporting. Reporters must talk to multiple people within a particular group or community.
They should also talk to experts and eyewitnesses to provide multiple perspectives on an issue or topic. In addition, reporters should strive to avoid sensationalizing topics and stories.
For example, reporting on a violent murder should not be overblown or made out to be something it is not. Instead, reporters should report the facts without sensationalizing the story or creating an unnecessary sense of urgency around the murder or the police investigation.
- Have first-hand sources
- Check that the news reports include supporting evidence or sources
- Corroborate any claims or allegations made.
- Have at least two independent and reliable sources confirm an event
- Verify the submitted information
The public relies on the media for unbiased and factual information about current events and trends. Inaccurate or agenda-driven news coverage can undermine public trust in the media.
Therefore, journalists must ensure their reporting is balanced and fair to ensure public trust in their reporting.