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What was Juan Williams thinking? Should he have told you?

Well, I guess Juan said what he was thinking. On Fox News. About guys who dress like Muslims and how it makes him nervous. And so NPR terminated his contract.

This is big news today — tops on Google News. It may even be good for Juan, since journalists are supposed to become a “brand” themselves these days. I’d say Juan’s been branded pretty well by this episode.

I am not going to ask what you think about NPR terminating Juan Williams, or what you think about people who wear Muslim clothing (I’m not sure what that means, actually ….).

What I want to know is if you think journalists should tell you what they think. Should they reveal their opinions, their biases, or keep these thoughts to themselves — and pretend to have no opinions?

Here’s why: I’m new to blogging for KPLU and NPR. I used to be a newspaper reporter where we were supposed to appear objective in what we wrote (though everyone realized we had a right to our own individual, private opinions … and most realized true objectivity is impossible).

But blogging as a journalist is supposed to be more personal, more transparent and, in reality, less objective. We are encouraged do news “analysis” (which was what Juan Williams was supposed to do for NPR) but when reporting make sure we fairly represent all views.

The difference between news analysis and personal opinion is not always clear.

Here’s a good article that discusses this episode in the context of changing media standards.

And here’s my question:

Do you think journalists/bloggers should make public their personal opinions, biases?


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.