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More Americans Going Online for News

EthicsDaily.com sometimes hears from readers with questions about our content. Below are some guides to understanding what is implied when material is labeled “news,” “editorial” or “column.”

New technology requires a savvier user, however. Abandoning traditional news outlets such as newspapers and TV means surfers must be able to discern for themselves what information is credible and what is not.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /> 
EthicsDaily.com sometimes hears from readers with questions about our content. Below are some guides to understanding what is implied when material is labeled “news,” “editorial” or “column.” 
Journalists define “news” as information that is timely, new, interesting and relevant to readers or listeners. News is intended primarily to inform. News stories typically include facts that are being reported for the first time. News writers are expected to present stories that are accurate and fair. Good news stories provide balance among competing views. News writers should never inject their personal views into a story.

“Editorials” are articles that express the opinion of the editor or publisher of a publication. Like news stories, editorials may present factual information, but they use it primarily to support an argument or point of view. Editorials are intended to persuade or mobilize, rather than to merely inform, a reader.

Publications may occasionally use “guest editorials” that have previously appeared elsewhere to balance their own editorial positions. 
“Columns” usually refer to articles written by a particular writer that appear in a publication on a regular basis. Unlike news stories, they include the writer’s opinions and perspective. Unlike editorials, the views expressed in a column are the writer’s own, and may or may not be shared by the editor or publisher of the publication in which they appear. Columns can focus on a specific topic, like a humor column or a gossip column, or can cover a broad range of issues. In political commentary, columnists often earn a reputation as spokespersons for a “conservative” or a “liberal” point of view. Newspapers often use these kinds of articles on the page opposite the editorial, hence they are sometimes called “op-ed” pieces.  
Bob Allen is managing editor for EthicsDaily.com.