Sunday, February 26, 2006

A non-objective article on objectivity

After posting my last piece, I realized that I had seen something several years back in CJR that was excellent on the topic of objectivity in journalism. (Note that I said it was excellent, therefore polluting any possibilties for this particular posting to be considered objective. So be it.)

While it's not up-to-the-minute timely, the points are well taken.

Here's the link:
  • Objectivity

    At 11:48 AM, Blogger Lacey said...

    Hello, my name is Lacey Waymire, and I'm a journalism student at CSUS. I stumbled on this blog while browsing J130 news blogs... I hope you don't mind if I enter the dialogue here.

    Objectivity is a concept I've been thinking about lately; this article really communicated the major issues with that goal.

    Though it's hard to be edgy and not have a bias, I'll just hold up the Daily Show as an example. Jon Stewart makes fun of everyone, and in that sense, he's not biased. But while that show is labeled "comedy," we are labeled "news." I don't think in news analysis we CAN be edgy without bias.

    Truth completely varies from person to person. Cindy McNiel, my high school journalism professor, told me that if several witnesses to one event all told the same story, authorities would be immediately suspicious that it the testimony was faked. As journalists, to "push the story, incrementally, toward a deeper understanding of what is true and what is false," as the article says, means we are essentially declaring ourselves the experts in whatever we cover.

    I struggled with this in a recent exercise Professor Fox had us do. Reading the information I had, it seemed obvious to me a victim had died of one cause, while the true cause of death was never stated. I couldn't print my own speculation, even though it *seemed* like a deeper level of truth. I could have quoted an expert with the same opinion as mine--but then again--wouldn't that be injecting my own bias, disguised?

    While I'd like to think that all journalists would be biased towards the truth, we're just as vulnerable to our own individual versions as everyone else, despite the fact that we have greater access to knowledge.

    With that in mind... Our bias needs to allow us to ask the questions we see no one else asking. Why not be up-front about our bias? Already we've established that journalists as bloggers are more respectable than Joe Shmoe. Journalists as analysts are the perfect marriage.

    We just can't start out partisan, or we'll never earn the right to share our bias. Really, that's what I'd like to do: earn the right to share my bias.

    At 3:04 PM, Blogger Rich Cameron said...

    Certainly it seems today that more and more journalists, both in print and broadcast, but perhaps more in broadcast, seem to interject their own bias, and do so openly. There is a place for that, but be up front and label it as analysis.

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