Monday, October 31, 2016

Know the Difference: Facts and Opinions

Raquel Devariel

When you decide to become a journalist, you have also decided to keep your opinions to the side. Acknowledging this part of the career we have chosen will help and assure not only a great path, but also a group of readers that will be loyal to our articles. These readers will know to seek you when they want accurate and precise information about problems that seem impossible to be unbiased about.

Leaving our opinions out helps us report with accuracy and avoid altercations or further difficulties. Since we belong to a huge group of competitors that will hunt until they find a mistake or a fact that went wrong, it is essential to follow a fact-checker's code of principles. One can be seen here.

Most importantly, to do our job the way was are supposed to, we should understand the difference between facts and opinions.


A fact is something said to have happened or supposed to true, as defined by The News Manual on Chapter 56: Facts and Opinions.

As journalists, sometimes we rely on others' facts, but it is our duty to thoroughly examine and determine whether those facts are accurate and reasonable to the story being published.

Proven facts, which are a type of information that has been proven true and accepted as true by everyone, can also be considered common knowledge and don’t need a source of attribution.

Another form of facts that journalists face are those that we call probable, meaning that they are seen as true, but they are lacking source either because of lack of information or attributor.

Last but not least, journalists deal with facts that are described as probable lies. These are statements that are mostly false but could also be true.

The difference.
Taken from:
An example The News Manual gives is "The Prime Minister has secretly married a sixteen-year-old fashion model."

It seems unlikely, but it can also be true.


These can be defined as conclusions that are driven and influenced by the knowledge of facts that a reporter has obtained.

Opinions, however, can cause the most problems for journalists. There is a very thin line on how we get these across. If we decided to follow the path of giving out our opinions, it is essential to make our readers understand that those are our thoughts and not proven facts.

Giving the readers the opportunity to verify our opinions by providing the correct facts fuels our credibility. Those are the tools they need to understand our way of thinking.

Along with opinions, we can also provide expert opinions that consist on conclusion made by those who thoroughly know the topic.

Knowing the difference:

For journalists, it is important to highlight the difference between both, helping others understand the role in the decisions we make and why we choose or don’t choose to report certain stories that might interfere with accuracy of the information. This aspect comes along with transparency, a highly esteemed and valued virtue in the journalism world.

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