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'Expose, illuminate, provoke discussion'

DISCUSSIONS | May 22, 2006

Valerie Hyman

1987 Nieman fellow; news consultant and trainer

Halt the he-said, she-said coverage. It's insufficient, lazy, and sheds no light on important issues. Instead of spending time getting reaction quotes, test the veracity and authenticity of the original statement. Journalists are under no legal obligation to provide equal space and/or time to opposing candidates. We ARE obliged, however, to expose and illuminate and provoke discussion of critical matters.

Develop questions about big community issues at the very start of campaigns and ask them of all candidates. Don't wait for the candidates to put these issues on the table. In many cases, they'll need prompting, to say the least.

Expose political ploys for what they are. Most journalists are perfectly well aware of the tactics the candidates employ. For some reason, we often keep them to ourselves, as if there is some kind of need to shield the public. Explain these tactics to viewers and readers. Put them in context.

This item is one of several responses to a survey of former Nieman fellows. Click here to see the main story.

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