By Mike Wilcox
I’ve always been a believer that my peers, the journalists of the world, need to tell both sides of the story and leave personal opinions to the editorial pages. I believe the same for educators. Teach both sides of an issue and allow your students to make their own decisions.
As a parent I have taught my son all issues have two sides, and it doesn’t always mean that one side is wrong. As he has grown, he has become opinionated and a good debater, but he always considers both sides of an issue, before making a decision.
That’s how I think it should be. I’m ashamed of some journalists who don’t provide balanced coverage. Lots of times they don’t present both sides. Some are liberal, some conservative, but many are only pushing the agenda they personally believe is right. For our profession, unless we are an opinion writer, that is wrong.
Educators have, in many instances, taken up the journalism mantra. Too many teach one side of an issue without giving credence to the notion that the other side might have viability. That, in my opinion, is a failure of our education system.
My son, now a freshman at a public university, went to a suburban high school. He offers stories where he intentionally would take a position opposite of the teacher’s when writing a paper. He tells me in a couple instances the teacher marked him down considerably for not siding with the teacher’s personal belief.
This doesn’t bother my son. He enjoys sparring with a teacher more than getting a good grade. It didn’t matter what their position was; he would take the opposite, simply so he could challenge the teacher’s belief.
I suspect he will continue this in college. But I fear for others who might not understand the educator’s opinions are just that — the opinion of one person.
I believe it was different when I went to college. My journalism professors demanded that opinions could never find their way in a written piece. If they did, we were subject to a rewrite and lower grade.
I can’t ever recall a professor interjecting their personal opinion during a lecture. We were taught to weigh all the evidence before making a subjective conclusion.
That’s not how it is today. Professors have opinions and, in many cases, expect students to blindly agree with them.
That’s one of the reasons there is so much tension in America today. You either believe in liberal principles or the conservative way, and there is very little middle ground. I find that disheartening. There are always two sides and we all should be able to debate in favor of either one.
These days that’s not the case. We all have opinions and can’t accept that someone might disagree with them. This seems to be true in higher education and true in my profession of journalism.
I miss the days of Walter Cronkite. The greatest of all TV newscasters told the news and saved the opinion-making to those who watched his CBS telecast every night. That, in my opinion, is how it should be.