Commentators must respect facts

Updated: 2013-06-13 08:18

(China Daily)

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News commentaries play a vital role in spurring social progress, but they can also have a negative impact on public opinion if they compromise the basic principle of respecting facts, says an article in China Youth Daily. Excerpts:

If reporting means presenting news, commentaries mean expressing opinions on news. Commentators have to base their contention on facts and avoid supposition. By their very nature, commentaries should follow news, instead of getting ahead of it. Thus opinions should be based on the available facts.

It is dangerous to make premature judgments. Typical examples of premature judgments were the commentaries on the death of a graduate student at Fudan University in Shanghai in April. Since it was suspected that his roommate had poisoned him, speculative commentaries sprung up on the Internet.

Some netizens criticized China's higher education system, saying it was utilitarian in nature and nibbled away at students' soul. Others said there was a need to reflect on the relationship among hostel roommates. Still others correlated the "motive of poisoning" with the suspect's personal character, claiming it might have been an ill effect of the national family planning policy.

It is, therefore, imperative that news commentators refrain from passing premature judgments on events or accidents. So the golden rule for reporters and commentators both should be to respect facts and verify their authenticity.