Even within one news source, there are different types of items with different objectives and qualities. Within a single news story, factual reporting and opinion statements may exist side-by-side. A recent study from the Pew Research Center determined that while Americans can often distinguish a statement of fact from a statement of opinion, they also sometimes confuse the two. As you engage with the news, consider some common types of new stories:
"Straight news" stories are focused on reporting the facts of an event, without providing much analysis or opinion.
Opinion pieces are generally labeled with "opinion" or "op-ed." The author provides their opinion about and/or analysis of a topic or event.
Editorialsare usually clearly labeled. They are generally authored by one or more members of a news outlet's editorial board, which generally operates independently of the newsroom, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the organization as a whole.
Breaking news pieces, sometimes called developing stories, are usually "straight news" pieces. Since they are reported quickly, often while an event is still ongoing, they may not provide a fully detailed account of the event. As time passes, reporters are generally able to get a clearer picture of the event and verify details, so breaking news items are often updated and/or corrected.
Investigative reporting generally takes place over time. Journalists cover a story carefully and in depth over a sustained period of time. Investigative reporting has led to landmark outcomes in American public life, such as the release of the Pentagon Papers or, more recently, the #metoo movement.