In Eric Krebs’ ’21 article “Gimme some truth!,” Krebs accurately details the limits inherent in any story that claims for itself the mantle of “truth.” Such a consideration ought always to be on the minds of those journalists — at Yale and elsewhere — who purport to deliver hard-hitting, objective news. That being said, I think that Krebs misunderstands the purpose of a neutral fact. Even in a world of subjective narrative, a world where our own individual experiences shape the narratives and stories that we tell, there’s still room for journalism. More specifically, there’s still room for a journalism that does more than just try to stitch together our individual perspectives, that instead tries to ground its reporting in something higher, something closer to an objective truth.
That’s where the neutral fact comes in: the neutral fact binds the article to a coherent truth claim that transcends the individual. Sure, it might seem silly to end an article with “The Stetson Library is located at 200 Dixwell Ave.” But in practice, such a sentence presents a fact that rises above individual perspective, attempting to deliver news that — while perhaps never perfectly capturing any whole truth — is at least universal in its accessibility and usefulness. Without the neutral fact, journalism contains nothing but a cacophonous collection of perspectives and narratives with no unifying truth claim. Without the neutral fact, journalism is just a collection of opinions.
JOHN KLINGLER is a sophomore in Benjamin Franklin College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .