Jay Rosen, an NYU professor, has been harping on this for a long time.
In a critique he calls “The View from Nowhere” he believes that American journalism’s belief in objectivity unravels into absurdities for many of the reasons you raise above.
Via an interview he conducted with himself:
If in doing the serious work of journalism–digging, reporting, verification, mastering a beat–you develop a view, expressing that view does not diminish your authority. It may even add to it. The View from Nowhere doesn’t know from this. It also encourages journalists to develop bad habits. Like: criticism from both sides is a sign that you’re doing something right, when you could be doing everything wrong.
If you read through his post though, you’ll see that he doesn’t dismiss objectivity in and of itself. For example:
If objectivity means trying to ground truth claims in verifiable facts, I am definitely for that. If it means there’s a “hard” reality out there that exists beyond any of our descriptions of it, sign me up. If objectivity is the requirement to acknowledge what is, regardless of whether we want it to be that way, then I want journalists who can be objective in that sense. Don’t you? If it means trying to see things in that fuller perspective Thomas Nagel talked about–pulling the camera back, revealing our previous position as only one of many–I second the motion. If it means the struggle to get beyond the limited perspective that our experience and upbringing afford us… yeah, we need more of that, not less.
Jay’s overarching point is that too often American journalism resorts to he said / she said reporting, and refuses to take the final step of refereeing the truthiness in what each side might be saying. See, for example, the recent dustup when the New York Times’ public editor asked if journalists should be “truth vigilantes”.