Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Governing gave William Glaberson of the New York Times our annual journalism award yesterday. There's lots that we liked about his series on New York's town and village courts, but one of my favorite things about the series was what it didn't have: balance.
While he clearly did his homework, talking to people inside and outside the court system, Glaberson doesn't suggest that having a favorable or unfavorable view of the courts are equally valid viewpoints.
Instead, what he writes is this:
"The examination found overwhelming evidence that decade after decade and up to this day, people have often been denied fundamental legal rights. Defendants have been jailed illegally. Others have been subjected to racial and sexual bigotry so explicit it seems to come from some other place and time. People have been denied the right to a trial, an impartial judge and the presumption of innocence."
That very unbalanced judgment just so happens to be strongly supported by the evidence he goes on to present. As such, Glaberson's series shows that there's a principle that, for good reporters, trumps balance every time: the truth.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.