Reuters Editors

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Keeping the emotion out of it

April 24, 2008

das-180.jpgThere is no question that news is emotional.   

News is about real people, real issues, real money and real lives.

News is about history, and about how history – and different views of history – impact the present.

Readers of news services, including those of Reuters News, have strong views and often emotional views about how we cover stories that either directly affect their lives or their emotions.Every year brings to the headlines stories that have the power to stir bitter feelings.

Our job as journalists is to keep the emotion out of it, to strive for objectivity, to strive to be free from bias, to strive to tell the story as it is.

This year one important story that has polarized readers has been Tibet and the violence there involving Tibetans, ethnic Chinese and the Chinese authorities.

Our job as journalists is not to take sides. Our job is not to say who is right and who is wrong. Our job is to report as quickly, clearly and accurately as possible so that readers can make up their own minds and to let the facts – and the protagonists – speak for themselves.

This is particularly difficult in a story like Tibet were we have been restricted from reporting as freely as we believe is necessary. Our reporting has had to rely on sources, eyewitnesses, official accounts and documentary evidence.

Where we cannot count bodies ourselves, we must report on conflicting accounts of casualties. Where we cannot observe events ourselves, we must evaluate and triangulate eyewitness reports.

Our China bureau is staffed with men and women with expertise in the region who, like all the journalists in Reuters News, subscribe to the Trust Principles that bind all of Thomson Reuters and that ensure we report the news independently, accurately and free from bias.

  REUTERS photo by Stefan Wermuth  


It’s imposible to know what really happenned in Tibet largely because the international media was “restricted from reporting as freely” as necessary.

Way too many media organizations have taken sides in this touchy issue…

Posted by Ajay Kamalakaran | Report as abusive

Yes, emotion should be kept out of any news report. But is Reuters’ China reporting team doing its job properly and ethically, in keeping with its own pledge of neutrality, to keep its own emotion, biases, and prejudices out of its news reporting?

I just noticed in your most recent report on the Torch Relay “Torch faces S.Korea protests, festivities in North”, you report “The pro-Beijing rallies in the South Korean capital left many Seoul residents angered. ‘It’s OK to cheer for their Olympic torch, but this is too much,” said Min Chae-woo”.

This is exactly what Reuters has been doing in its news reports, focusing on the bad, nasty, anti-china aspect of the reply which is only a few, while failing to report the much larger positive, good will, peace-wishing aspect of the replay that Chinese people try to communicate to the world through their slogans of “one world, one dream” and “no politics in Olympics”. What Reuter is actually doing, with its one-sided news reporting, is to drive a wedge between cultures, peoples, and countries, to incite ethnic hostility and hatred, and to create divides, misunderstanding and conflicts that otherwise would not have been there. If this is not irresponsible reporting, what is? If this is not conflict-monger, what is?

If Reuters wants to be a destructive force of world peaces in order to get news out of it, then don’t play the victim here. But if Reuters really is serious about being a news agency and wants to do something good to the world, it needs to rethink its own news conduct and practice.

I noticed in many instances during the past couple of months, Reuters deliberately worked on photos, stretched facts, such as using exaggerated numbered about the death toll in Tibetan unrests and citing prominently statements made by Tibetan movement-in-exile about the ground condition in Lhasa while knowing perfectly well that Tibetan movement-in-exile has its own political agenda, or simply turned a blind eye to what really happened on the ground. For example, in its reporting of Olympic torch relay in Argentina, Reuters emphasized the presence of a small group of pro-Tibet protesters while failed to mention properly the presence of a much larger number of pro-China demonstrators.

Reuters cited, almost invariably in every news report, statements made by pro-Tibetan or anti-China individuals against China, but extremely rarely, statements made by average Chinese students and people who went to the torch relay to support and convey the message of World Peace and Harmony, and who by the way, were many more times over than the pro-Tibetan or anti-China groups. Reuters simply dismissed them and their message as pro-China.

What Reuters is doing is more like a political propaganda campaign, aimed at vilifying China rather than reporting, at driving a wedge between China and the rest of the world rather than reporting the truth. If Reuters really tries to be the guardian of truth as it self-proclaims, it needs to take a hard look at its own news conduct and practice.

Before Reuter points figures to complaining readers, it should look inward to its own practice.

Posted by sam | Report as abusive

Hi, David.

Sorry but i can’t stop laughing,cynically though, when i read what you have to say about journalism from Reuters’ point of view : ” our job as journalist is to keep the emotion out of it,to strive for objectivity,to strive to be free from bias,to strive to tell the story as it is “..Are you ? please ask yourself deep inside your noble heart,

And then, i was saddened by an article by your fellow journalist, Grant McCool on the Torch Run in Vietnam; Inside his article, somehow the trial and sentences of Lhasa rioter are mentioned, I was asking myself, why Grant have to use a pair of apostrophes when he mentioned the 18 innocent civilian that were killed during the riot, what was his intention? what was he try to imply to the general readers ? that the 18 deserved to be killed ? that the 18 was not innocent cilivian because they were Han Chinese and not Tibetan Chinese ?.. We know, a lot of the western people ( i am not saying all ) dislike or maybe hate Chinese, in fact we never expect the western people to like us, but then i don’t think Grant should go to that low (a standard ),forgoing his own humanity and the slightest respect to the death, just to make a point which i am not so sure is free from bias, how about you, David ?…Just hope, the day will come when the doctrine of true journalism is being practise witout bias, but when ? a question for you to ponder, David.


Hi David,
Just wondering whether you could spare a few minutes of your precious time check out on these sites :-
(1). From your professional point of view, how do they face in rebutting the not so professional reporting of the CNN,BBC & RTL ? After all, they maybe king in non-reporting but they are definitely still a jack in mis-reporting {to be more precise, twisted reporting}
(2). c1c01009ciz.html. You may want to spare a tiny corner of your column for these ladies & gentlemen that so happen gathered at Colgate University, New York on April,22. where Dalai give out one of his charming talks during his arranged tour of the USA recently

Posted by PC | Report as abusive

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