Jay Rosen on he-said she-said journalism

After hearing a report about the new regulation clinics for abortion clinics in Kansas, Jay Rosen had a complaint:

My complaint is not the usual one that you probably get: biased reporting. No. This is he said, she said reporting, one of the lowest forms of journalism in existence, in which the NPR reporter washes her hands of determining what is true. The new Kansas regulations may be a form of harassment, intended to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers in that state. Or, alternatively, these rules may be sane, rational, common sense, sound policy: just normal rule-making by responsible public officials.

Is it the responsibility of a reporter to try to figure out “who’s right” in situations like this? How would they even go about doing that? Rosen’s got answers.

For example: Opponents of abortion in Kansas say the regulations are just common sense. NPR could compare the proposed regulations for abortion to other procedures that are performed at clinics in that state: do the regulations for, say, colonoscopies specify that storage areas for “janitorial supplies and equipment” must be at least 50 square feet per procedure room? Or is that kind of requirement unique to the state’s proposed rules for abortion? I don’t know the answer, but NPR could try to find out. And if it’s not NPR’s job to find out, who’s job is it?

There’s more, including an exchange with NPR’s ombudsman, and it’s very much worth a read. Rosen’s here fighting for nothing less than the future of journalism. Here’s a followup.