by Zhang Xiaoqing
Photos by Edith Lu
Don’t argue but enlighten when writing news stories, George Rodrigue, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, said to students at Hong Kong Baptist University today.
“When covering political issues, don’t talk about politics, but about reality. As journalists, we don’t push readers to agree with us in an argument, but push them to understand the reality,” Rodrigue said.
Rodrigue and his partner won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for stories that exposed segregation and discrimination in federally subsidized housing programs. And he was one the team that won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for a series on violence against women.
Now the Editor and General Manager of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Rodrigue said covering Donald Trump is a specific challenge.
Political-candidate supporters look for good information about the side they favor, Rodrigue said.
He said a mixed audience demands accuracy and impartiality, so journalists should carefully avoid favoring or even appearing to favor any candidates.
Rodrigue said digital tools, such as videos, audio, interactive graphics and hyperlinks to original documents can help journalists be impartial.
“One of the greatest things in the digital era is we can have Donald Trump vs. Donald Trump, because it is there,” he said.
Rodrigue added that avoiding adjectives and using subheads for each side can also help articles be fair.
“Even if people don’t agree with us, at least we can let them know that we are doing the right issue,” he said.