Home > BLOG 6, Uncategorized > BLOG 6: What are we afraid of?

BLOG 6: What are we afraid of?

Last year October, Keith Olbermann was fired from MSNBC because he contributed some of his money to handful of democrats congressman. before the mid-term election. In addition, lots of news organizations including ABC, New York Times, and NPR prohibit their reporter to participate in the ‘Rally for Sanity’ leaded by John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Before his contribution to democrats, we didn’t know he likes them?

Then, why do all these firing and prohibitions happened in all of the news organizations? Because they want to their reporter being objective or, at least, they hope they seemed to be objective. That means, if Keith Olbermann hadn’t give campaign contribution he wouldn’t have biased to republicans ? Or If NPR reporter didn’t go to ‘the rally’ that means they don’t have any political ideologies in their mind?  I don’t think so and these two accidents raised an important question.

What are we afraid of?

Is it possible that journalist can be 100% objective? As every all of us is biased, I think journalists are not free from that because they are people too! I think we need to define ‘objectivity’ in terms of using in journalism practice.

First, I object mechanical objectivity or the idea that journalist should be stand neutral.

I think this could be a good reason to produce ‘easy’ journalism such as disseminating basic information or just follow up but not ‘iron core’ information. Readers don’t want reporters being 100% objectives, and whether they are biased or not is judged by arbitrate factors. For example, on the issue of Libya revolution, all of western journalists covered the issue based on the premise that Gaddafi is criminal, and he should be step-down. They didn’t consider arguments from Gaddafi side very seriously compared to that of rebels. However, nobody argued that his or her coverage’s are biased except Gaddafi himself. I am not saying that the coverage are wrong, but I am arguing that we see biased reporting every day on every certain issue, and, of course, Libya revolution is very political issue.

Then what about ‘political issues’ in United States? Is it okay to be biased when they are reporting international political issues but not okay in domestic issues? Journalist should hider their political ideologies and shouldn’t participated in the ‘Rally for Sanity’ leaded by two comedians?

If the role of journalists were offering only ‘raw’ information to citizens then I would say yes, but I think their role is not only offering basic information but also offering ‘the context’ of them with truth. And in this process, journalist should judge the information and context to find out the truth. When people judge, no one is 100% object; therefore 100% objectivity in journalism is just impossible.

Then we should consider about what are the best ways to deliver the best journalism to readers in the condition that we cannot achieve 100% objectivity.

First, Journalist shouldn’t distort the fact and its context in favor or his or her political interest. Journalist shouldn’t distort their contents as O’Keefe did on his video of NPR president having conversation with fundraisers.

He not only edited but also distorted.

Second, Journalist should be cool-headed and must look dispassionately at the realities.

Third, Journalist doesn’t judge very hastily. In most of very controversial issues, it is really hard to tell which party is right or what is the real truth of it. If journalists don’t have enough information to judge them, then don’t judget them, but give some rooms to readers that they can judge the issue. However, if they think they have enough information for sure to judge the case, and then just do it very carefully.

Journalists are people too. They are not special objective animals. Thus I think it is irrational to expect them their coverage’s are 100% objective. However, that does not mean that journalist could be swayed by public opinion very easily without hard facts, or could be very emotionally and attack their political opponents like politicians or Fox News. But what I am arguing is that journalist should try their best to gather facts and information as much as possible to judge each reporting case very carefully.

And if they were put in the very difficult position that should be in favor of one side, then their side must be ‘real public interest’ not democrats or republicans.

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  1. March 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    You discussed public interest in your last blog post, correct? What is “real public interest?” How do you define it? Can you “objectively” identify public interest? Or is one person’s concept of public interest potentially biased also?

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