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Commentary advice for scholars from Terry Milewski

by Shari Graydon

Scholars accustomed to sharing evidence-based analysis grounded in research and purporting to be fact sometimes express discomfort with the idea of expressing the kind of strong opinion favoured by op ed page editors. They might benefit from the example offered by CBC Televsion’s intrepid attack dog, Terry Milewski.

Veteran CBC TV reporter, Terry Milewski

Profiled in the Globe and Mail last week, the veteran reporter volunteered that he feels a similar tension when asked to stand-up reports with CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge.

More and more we’re doing our work live, and invariably the first question you’re asked is “What do you think?” And the trick is to say, “Well, there are those who say”, or “Some critics believe that” or “On the one hand there are those who think…”

A similar approach — offering evidence both for and against a particular proposition —  can permit academics to acknowledge ambiguity, provide nuanced context and offer the very useful “to be sure” counter argument to strengthen the case being made.

But at the end of the day, comment pages are a place where people expert in their fields are expected to come down on one side of the fence or the other. Because if you — as one who is “smarter than the average bearand therefore has a particularly informed opinion – don’t know what to think, how are the rest of us to come to any conclusions?