One of my favorite habits of journalists is that they refuse to state an opinion. Instead, they find a source to say whatever it is they want said and then quote them. And when I say “favorite,” what I really mean is that I hate it.
The story the journalist writes has the look of objectivity but really it’s just the same as if the journalist wrote what she or he meant, directly, in the first place. A gold star journalist will then find a “balancing” quote from someone else, often the person or entity being attacked. “When did you stop beating your wife,” etc.
I prefer to just skip all that nonsense and get right to the meat of a matter. And most of my favorite bloggers do the same. None of us have the audacity to think that we are your only news source. You can find other opinions elsewhere, and judge them on their merits, too.
We all know that statistics can lie -- ie that you can usually come up with a statistic to support your case no matter what your position is -- and by the same principle quotes can lie too: journalists can usually come up with any kind of quote they want to support their point of view. I think hiding behind "expert" quotes is one of the bad habits of professional journalism and ranks up there with "anecdotes" as one of the most abused methods for injecting a story bias. A story bias is when the writer has the story concept first, and then gets the anecdotes, quotes, and statistics to make the case. The bias can be left or right, up or down, but usually it's in favor of the salacious or exciting story, and against the dull "nothing to see here" story which is more often than not the reality. Even those journalists that can resist an ideological bias often have a hard time resisting a story bias -- because without a story they don't have a job. It's an inherent conflict. Story bias and biased story selection are insidious because they are hard to spot in a vacuum and Mike's prescription is worth taking to heart: find multiple opinions and judge them on their merits.