posts about or somewhat related to ‘objectivity’
Matthew Ingram, GigaOm. Why can’t we just admit that journalists are human?.
Ingram argues that the more we know of a journalist’s opinions, the better: “We need to encourage more transparency rather than less, because there are so many sources of information now that the old “journalist as impartial oracle” approach, or what Jay Rosen calls the “View From Nowhere,” simply no longer works (and was a fiction in any case).”
Something happened in our press over the last 40 years or so that never got acknowledged and to this day would be denied by a majority of newsroom professionals. Somewhere along the way, truthtelling was surpassed by other priorities the mainstream press felt a stronger duty to. These include such things as “maintaining objectivity,” “not imposing a judgment,” “refusing to take sides” and sticking to what I have called the View from Nowhere.
No one knows exactly how it happened, for it’s not like a policy decision came down at some point. Rather, the drift of professional practice over time was to bracket, or suspend sharp questions of truth and falsehood in order to avoid charges of bias, or excessive editorializing. Journalists felt better, safer, on firmer professional ground–more like pros–when they stopped short of reporting substantially untrue statements as false. One way to describe it (and I believe this is the correct way) is that truthtelling moved down the list of newsroom priorities. Other things now ranked ahead of it.
— New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in an interview with Fast Company. Journalism In A Digital World And The Age Of Activism.
mybodywasntready-deactivated201 asked: RE: latest post. But isn't this just an excuse to bash NPR for not automatically supporting abortion? Surely they would be criticized for doing the opposite! The "view from nowhere" frustrates me too, but I also don't believe it's NPR's job to take sides in every story.; merely to add context to why the centers are being opposed. Maybe they didn't do the best job in this case. But it wouldn't it be worse for journalists to assume there is an absolute truth?
Thanks for writing in. You make some good points but I think you are misreading, or overreading, what Jay wrote.
He does not ask for NPR to come down on either side of the abortion debates. What he does say, and believes listeners deserve an answer to, is who has more truth on their side with this specific piece of Kansas legislation.
Listen (emphasis ours):
My complaint is not the usual one that you probably get: biased reporting. No. This is he said, she said reporting, one of the lowest forms of journalism in existence, in which the NPR reporter washes her hands of determining what is true. The new Kansas regulations may be a form of harassment, intended to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers in that state. Or, alternatively, these rules may be sane, rational, common sense, sound policy: just normal rule-making by responsible public officials.
According to this report, NPR has no idea who is right. It cannot provide listeners with any help in sorting through such a dramatic conflict in truth claims. It knows of no way to adjudicate these clashing views. It is simply confused and helpless and the best it can do is pass on that helplessness to listeners of “Morning Edition.” Because there is just no way to know whether these new rules try to make life as difficult as possible for abortion providers, or put common sense public policy goals into practice in Kansas. There is no standard by which to judge. There is no comparison that would help. There is no act of reporting that can tell us who has more of the truth on their side. In a word, there is nothing NPR can do! And so a good professional simply passes the conflict along. Excellent: Now the listeners can be as confused as the journalists.
You are correct that journalists and journalism don’t have a priestly hold on capital “T” Truth. Nor would we want it.
But Jay’s critique isn’t about that. It’s about the truth of demonstrable ideas and policies. There’s a difference here.
Scott Pelley, CBS News, Journalism holds up a mirror, tells us the facts
The newest addition to the CBS evening news offers his opinion of how the news should be. While other networks gravitates toward opposing extremes, Pelley aims for the middle where objectivity, fairness and accuracy lie.
Does new media require a new definition of objectivity? In this article, Stephan Ward argues that, yes, it does. Ward suggests that in order for ethics to prosper, objectivity must be redefined within the constraints of a new domain. In this case, new media journalism.
From Politico, “A new era of accusation and innuendo” by Jonathan Martin and John Harris
The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.
John Swinton, circa 1880, when asked to give toast in praise of an independent press. At the time, Swinton was an editorial writer for the New York Sun. Previously, he had been the chief editorial writer for the New York Times.
Christopher Ketcham, Truthdig, Intellectual Prostitution and the Myth of Objectivity
— Peter S. Goodman, Huffington Post, Beyond Left And Right: It’s About Reality.