From Ian Buruma's review of "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" by Frank Rich, in Sunday's New York Times:
"A good reporter for an American paper must get sources who sound authoritative and quotes that show both sides of a story. His or her own expertise is almost irrelevant. If the opinions of columnists count for too much in the American press, the intelligence of reporters is institutionally underused. The problem is that there are not always two sides to a story. Someone reporting on the persecution of Jews in Germany in 1938 would not have added “balance” by quoting Joseph Goebbels."
Let's hope not. But the same twisted logic was on display two decades ago when I was reporting a series on tobacco injury litigation. One of the lawyers leading the fight against the tobacco companies complained about the habitual response of journalists reporting the health effects of tobacco; invariably they called industry spokesmen for their side. If you reported a heroin bust, he asked, would you call up the Mob for comment?