I think we’re suffering from a wave of cheap, soundbite-driven, research-avoiding journalism hiding behind being “balanced”. Balance is a great tool to make a story more neutral. You not only give a voice to the critic, but also to the criticized. Both have the chance to make an argument and the audience can decide for themselves which side to take.
But apply this principle to a “politician A said X” story and you end up with a mere sequence of opinions. I dare to say, of n contradicting opinions, roughly n-1 tend to disagree with science. So congratulations, you just wasted the audiences’ time on unchecked opinions.
Politicians know they will get away with saying every ideological rubbish they could imagine on technical issues. But beware of the issues that don’t require researching facts to ridicule what they just said. If they don’t know the price of milk, they will be hunted down by the media for being “out of touch”.
So please! Next time you run into a claim by one side and you think about just adding the other side’s opinion and call it a day, consider seeing the current state of science as the opposition.
Humanity’s best attempt at finding the truth, always has to be the opposition to opinions. Another opinion is just another opinion.
There are many issues that feel purely political and feel like they can only be decided on ideological grounds. But I think (yes, only my opinion) a scientific angle always can be found. For example taxation, different measures of punishment, privatization, education… At the moment the side which dumbs down the argument more successfully, wins. Journalists should not let this happen.
I talk about “the journalists”. I’m sincerely sorry for that. I know many of you are out there trying to do your best, operating under grim conditions, lacking resources like time, money and pro-journalistic laws.
Also, some organisations get this extremely well. My respect for The Economist increases with every article I read.