Home > BLOG 6 > Blog 6: Worshipping a “false god” – Media Objectivity

Blog 6: Worshipping a “false god” – Media Objectivity

“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.”  -Jay Rosen

Media objectivity seems to be a controversial subject in our ever-evolving world of journalism.  The public wants to hear the “truth,” but in my opinion, the “truth” doesn’t have to be opinion free.  As Rosen and Cunningham argue in their respective articles, good and clear reporting and investigation can easily lead for journalists to develop informed views.  If a subject is well-researched, opinions are inevitable (but based on authentic and well-informed information).  Journalists report conflict, and with conflict, comes opinion.  After all, reporters and editors are humans too.

At the School of Journalism, we sit in class, after class listening about how we need to remain objective and how the news industry is dying.  What I fail to understand is why we don’t just acknowledge that mild subjectivity in news is the product of a good, proactive journalism.  Instead, let’s debate on how we can continue to make money in journalism and report the stories that need to be heard.

Although the below video is long, it is interesting because Keith Olbermann discusses how the most prominent journalists, i.e. Rather, Morrow, and Cronkite,  “evaluated, analyzed, unscrambled, accessed” using the facts and their own conscience.  He proceeds to argue that pushing for complete objectivity is like “worshiping a false god”:

Cunningham “Re-Thinking Objectivity” argues that there is “nothing has replaced objectivity,” but I think the answer is acceptance of opinions.  If that means journalists (both traditional and nontraditional) dig into the stories, probe for questions and talk to reliable sources, I can handle impartiality.  Sometimes our doctors, lawyers and other trusted professions insert their opinions, so why do journalists have to be an exception?  Let’s let them use their education of an issue to inform the public. 

If Rush Limbaugh does his research and doesn’t get too cozy with political officials, I’m willing to listen to his opinions . . . but only then.

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  1. March 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Good. I can tell you have thought about this issue. Maybe next time “objectivity” comes up in a journalism course you can push back a little bit on the issue. Would make for an interesting conversation.

  1. March 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

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