The public editor (a.k.a., ombudsman) of the New York Times answers the question that some would say needs no answer: “Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper?” And he wastes no time: “Of course it is.” The article goes on to chronicle in detail the regular, daily evidence of the left-leaning perspective the paper’s staff as a whole clearly has (I’m not arguing), resulting, he argues, from the nature of New York itself and the kind of people drawn there, let alone (says I) the type of people drawn to working at the Times.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing, or neither? If everyone who worked at the Times — and at any news organization — recognized and remained aware through the day of how his or her views were similar or different than his or her audience, it would be a little less of an issue. I think people don’t necessarily expect you to think and act the same as they do, but they don’t like feeling that you perceive them as odd or that you don’t understand them, even if you disagree. This is part of why I and many reporters always say that if you get complaints from both sides on your story, you think you did a good job.
So why am I posting this? For this: You can’t be 100 percent neutral in almost anyone’s eyes. Your approach and coverage will inevitably be influenced by your own background and experience. If you don’t believe this, then go to your nearest Burger King, notice the people there, then visit BKs in very different places and notice the people there. Listen to conversations (to the extent you can without being intrusive). What’s important is not that you are on the same page as all of the people around you, but do you understand where they come from? Can you represent those people fairly? That’s all anyone really expects.