Home > BLOG 6 > BLOG 6: The Subjectivity of News Objectivity

BLOG 6: The Subjectivity of News Objectivity

It’s not that I think that objective political news is a myth. It’s not even necessarily that I think object political news is the end-all be-all necessity of “true” journalism. If anything, I recognize two truths: that it is nearly impossible to be fully objective in political news and that news would be damned boring if it was.

In my opinion, searching for pure, objective journalism–a journalism devoid of unique perspective or bias–is a bit like searching for Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. The very nature of journalism is rooted in humans–human reporters, human perspective–so how does one propose to remove human subjectivity without removing the human itself? It’s a bit like the Hawthorne Studies–the very presence of humans affects how humans behave. Similarly, the very principle of being human makes political news susceptible to human subjectivity. Perhaps not a flawless analogy, but the principle is there.

And to that end, what would removing subjectivity really accomplish? In my opinion, political news can be divided neatly down the middle: it consists of the facts or “iron core” and of political opinions and analysis. As long as that iron core–the true, hard facts of events reported–covers the true depth of the event (example: if a reporter brings up an Israeli civilian death count, then that same reporter should also bring up Palestinian civilian death count), should a journalist’s potential subjectivity really matter? The concern I would have involves the misreporting or lack of reporting of critical details; if, past that core, journalists choose to analyze news one way or another, that’s their prerogative as living, breathing humans.

I mean, listen, I’m no fan of Glenn Beck, but, at the core of it, he has the rights to televise his opinions just as much as I do. I, as a critical citizen, should just know better than to take his words at face value.

And in some cases, I even appreciate the perspective because it might not be one that I have. Jay Rosen expresses it better than I do–

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. – Jay Rosen, PressThink.org

So forget the anachronism of striving for an ideal that is impossible to reach, let’s look at it through the words of Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. And to say it the way you want to as long as you don’t change facts on me. That’s when we’re going to have problems. xoxo!


  1. March 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Good. Writing is getting tighter. Do you notice? Keep it up.

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