Students learn the difference between fact and opinion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 12:00am

Four popular characters on Songbirds - Ted, Bax, Daisy and Alysha - are asked to write a story about an HIV/Aids clinic in Hong Kong. But how do you write a story about a controversial issue like that?

In the extract below, the students' journalism lecturer Dr Lo explains the difference between factual truth and opinion.

Bax: But how should we start?

Dr Lo: You should always start with the truth. It is a good journalist's business to always report the truth.

Daisy: Huh! A lot of newspapers just tell a lot of lies!

Dr Lo: Yes, Daisy. That's true for some newspapers, but not for all newspapers and certainly not for our newspaper.

Ted: But if we write boring stuff no one will want to read it!

Dr Lo: Ted, telling the truth does not mean you have to be boring. Fact is often more interesting than fiction.

Alysha: So we have to write the truth but make it interesting.

Dr Lo: Yes, Alysha.

Bax: But how do we do that?

Dr Lo: Well, have an angle, a point of view. You are writing a story about an Aids clinic and how the local residents are against it.

Daisy: (Interrupting) So you want us to write about how dumb the residents are?

Dr Lo: A good journalist should always tell the truth, Daisy.

Daisy: But is my point of view the truth? OK, it's my truth but is it everybody's truth? Some people might sympathise with the residents.

Dr Lo: A journalist can report the facts and give a point of view based on those facts. But only hard facts are the real truth. Points of view may differ.

Journalists play an important role in society - they can help to expose wrong-doing and bring about positive change. Ted, Bax, Daisy and Alysha learn that facts can be reported as truth, but people's opinions may differ What do you think?

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