By GABRIELLA SHOFER
News reporting does not just mean providing the facts.
News reporters are responsible for providing factual information about events occurring in the world in an easily comprehensible manner. All too often, news reports complicate the matter further, distorting the public’s perception of the issue at hand.
A particularly relevant example of this is the reporting on the spread of the Ebola virus, that has been covered by the media during the past month. Updates about the disease are continually reported, however, instead of providing information about the disease, many of the articles are written in a way that increases fear in the public about the disease and how it can affect them.
However, a recent notable exception was the The New York Times article that provided more in depth information about the disease, particularly through the use of infographics. Aptly titled, Q & A, the article refutes rumors about the scale of the outbreak of Ebola around the world by using a question and answer format.
The graphic answers the most common questions that are currently being asked about Ebola and provides simplified explanations about the science behind the disease. This format demonstrates the fundamental principle of news reporting in informing the public, rather than providing misleading information that complicates the situation through the use of scientific jargon.
Answers to the questions are further enhanced through the use of graphs, tables, timelines and diagrams, which clarify the situation for the reader. By presenting the facts in this way, The New York Times illustrates the situation in a more clear and concise manner and ensures that readers are informed.
While creating these visual representations of the facts and figures is time consuming, it ultimately provides a more valuable news report for the public while simultaneously foregrounding the publication’s position as a reputable source of information.