Civics: Why reporters should help combat misleading opinion pieces

Alexander Russo:

Maybe you, like me, are long past caring very much what Diane Ravitch has to say about education. Seeing how much less frequently she’s quoted in education stories these days, I get the sense that I’m not alone.

For that reason, I was more than a little bit surprised to see that TIME magazine published a particularly misleading op-ed from the former George H.W. Bush administration education official without seeming to have given it the editing and fact-checking it so badly needed.

However, you don’t have to care about Ravitch or TIME or opinion journalism to be concerned about what I’m calling “copy and paste” opinion pieces.

Copy and paste op-eds are minimally edited, generally absent thoughtful consideration of complexities, and sometimes factually inaccurate. They are unfortunately pretty common.

They create a Wild West experience for readers, who don’t know that what they’re reading is misleading. They erode trust in news stories that are carefully reported and edited for accuracy and fairness. Occasionally, they blow up in media outlets’ faces.

This kind of thing has to stop. The torrent of polarizing opinion pieces has grown too toxic. And it’s not enough to call for more and better editing by short-staffed opinion sections.