There are several TV channels mostly devoted to news, but I can find no national outlets that clearly distinguish news reporting from news commentary. There are local news broadcasts that deliver straight news in the traditional sense, but they tend to focus on local issues.
As an experiment I spent some time watching CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Even when nominally reporting events, reporters often interview relevant people in the following fashion …
Reporter: “Senator, what is your position on President Trump’s announcement concerning the Iranian nuclear deal?”
Senator: “… summarizes his opinion …”
Reporter: “I agree with your first point, but don’t you think that your second position is …?”
Since when does any reporter worth his salt ever say the words, “I agree with your first point”? Who cares what the reporter thinks? It is perfectly proper to ask follow-up questions that probe the consequences of the interviewee’s responses, but not in terms of the reporter’s opinion one way or the other. Argumentative questions are frequently heard, for example …
Reporter: “Don’t you think our European allies will reject Trump’s policy on this deal?”
The proper way to probe this perfectly valid issue is …
Reporter: “What do you think our European allies will do now that Trump has decertified the deal?”
If you don’t see the difference here, then this creeping unprofessionalism has caught you up too.
I sometimes find commentators who give very astute, fact-based discussions and interviews, like Fareed Zakaria on his GPS program. But that isn’t reporting in the sense, for example, of Walter Cronkite or Robert MacNeil. Is there simply no market for straight news anymore? And, most worrisome, can viewers even detect when what they are hearing is simply an opinion? I am not condemning editorializing in general, but it should be clearly labeled as such.