Opinion or fact: There's a difference
TO NEW ERA EDITORS:
Should your readers be given information that appears to be accurate when, in fact, it is based on opinion? As the clich' goes, opinions are like noses -- we all have them.
You do put opinions on your opinion pages. But not everyone has the capability (knowledge, experience, etc.) to distinguish fact from belief, and additional care should be taken to clearly separate the two.
Perhaps the paper needs to have periodic reminders that fact and opinion are different, or publish editorials that highlight when one seems to masquerade as the other. Trust is important, but it is easily tarnished.
New Era syndicated columnist Michael Gerson made two seemingly accurate statements about drones in his column you published Feb. 12.
The first one is that drones are "a technology that allows the most discriminate application of force in the history of warfare." That sounds like a fact. I would not be surprised if a defense agency made such a claim.
I'm a bit doubtful about it, however, having been a USAF pilot and having been involved in drone evaluations, collateral damage mitigation and defense analyses.
The second statement that sounds like a proven fact is "the targeting of U.S. citizens who are fighting for the enemy is neither new nor forbidden by the laws of war."
Not being a lawyer, I can't say with certainty that this contradicts any specific ruling, but it doesn't match with the knowledge I do have.
Additionally, the statement "fighting for the enemy" can mean many different things to many different people. Fuzzy or imprecise words can easily lead to false conclusions.
Opinion writers should not present information that looks like fact, and journalists should not present information that looks like opinion.
Do you have a responsibility to provide clarity or correction when your highly respected syndicated writers make statements that seem factual even when they are not?