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Difference between News Analysis and Opinion?

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I am looking to get a better understanding of different categories of material written in a newspaper. I had assumed two main types:

1) News (i.e. reporting of facts) -> objective (not debatable).

2) Opinion/editorial (i.e. interpretation) -> subjective (debatable)

For reputable papers there would be no bias in the "news", i.e. you could accept the facts as accurate. No personal opinion allowed. Any bias would be in the opinion/editorial pages, because here the writer could insert his/her opinion, make inferences, etc. NYT Readers Guide says:

"Editorials ... are not intended to give a balanced look at both sides"

So you might like the point-of-view of one paper but actually trust more the "facts" of a more reputable paper (but whose perspective you don't like). I think papers even segregate the staff of these two categories.

But recently I found another category called "News Analysis". I need help understanding this category.

In researching online I find things like: Analysis can have "expert opinion" but not "personal opinion". Meaning the writer can draw conclusions/inferences but only those supported by the data, or could include the opinion of an expert.

But then a good editorial also makes evidence-based arguments from supporting evidence.

So in which category does Analysis belong? Is it "news" (i.e. objective) or "opinion" (subjective)?

Why should this post be closed?

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/48778. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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2 answers

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Analysis obviously has to include objective news as the subject of the analysis, but it is not necessarily opinion.

For example, News might quote the President, or a candidate. Analysis might take that quote and demonstrate, objectively, it is false. Or demonstrate that while true, it is also misleading.

An example is a recent story I read on burying (in a landfill) wind turbine blades that are beyond repair, and the author quoted some millions of tons of blades thusly buried. That was an objective fact, and news to me. They then went on to an opinion, that increasing the load on the environment in a landfill was negating the supposedly environmentally friendly aspect of using wind turbines instead of fossil fuels.

However, an Analyst could anticipate (or respond) to this. I checked, the ANNUAL wind turbine blade burial accounts for something like 0.01% of our DAILY dump into landfills. It is completely insignificant, the material they are made from produces no significant carbon dioxide or methane by rotting, and rotting food and other organic materials produce the vast amount of greenhouse gases in landfills.

It is completely safe, with regard to greenhouse gases, to bury wind turbine blades. They could be pulverized (using green wind electricity, of course) and dumped or buried.

Analytical news can use facts and reasoning (not opinion) to clarify some piece of news, and show that it is alarming, or not alarming, true or false, or true but intentionally misleading, or technically false but something quite similar and equally alarming is true, and so forth.

Ideally Analysis provides context and additional facts so readers understand the News.

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It might be useful to compare this to what doctors do. Doctors first establish symptoms. These are the facts of the case. Notice that it is possible to miss or discount a symptom. The data being gathered is factual in nature, but that does not guarantee that it is complete or accurate. Even gathering basic data requires skill and attention, and a nose for what is significant in a particular case.

They then perform diagnosis. They analyse the symptoms to try to determine what is causing the symptoms. This is a more or less rigorous process, usually with an established method that has been tested and is considered superior to other methods. It is still, however, an exercise of judgment. It goes beyond the raw facts to extrapolate an explanation that fits the facts. But it is subject to errors in judgement or method. There is no guarantee that the diagnosis is correct and two different doctors looking at the same set of symptoms may, and often do, arrive at different diagnoses.

Then they prescribe treatment. Now they are going beyond the collection and interpretation of evidence. They are recommending action. In doing so, they may consider things other than the symptoms and the diagnosis. Different treatments may affect the patient's way of life in different ways. Some treatment options may be considered unethical or immoral. The doctor may have a vested interest in one treatment over another (kickbacks from a drug company, maintaining their survival rate statistics).

As you can see, a simple objective/subjective model does not fit this process. There is room for bias and incompetence and ideological difference at every stage of the medical treatment process.

So it is with journalism. There is reporting (gathering symptoms), analysis (diagnosing the problem) and opinion (recommending solutions). There is more room for differences between journalists to affect outcomes as you go from reporting to analysis to opinion, just as there is when doctors go from symptoms to diagnosis to prescription. But none of these processes is entirely objective or subjective.

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