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" 'Objective' journalism is over. Let's move on."

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MisterCreosote, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member


    For journalists to be able to report effectively on the news and its significance, we have to replace the intellectually indefensible pretense of objectivity with a more authentic standard that journalists actually can live up to.

    Mutter suggests every journalist should have to publish a statement of "political, personal and financial interests" in the interest of full disclosure. "Full disclosure would enable consumers to make their own informed judgments about the potential biases and believability of any journalist."

    While I don't necessarily think full disclosure is a bad thing, one can do that yet not completely abandon objectivity, as Mutter seems to be arguing.

  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Let me know where I can find some financial interests.
  3. CRR13

    CRR13 Member

    I don't think that Mutter was arguing against complete objectivity. Claiming that journalists are completely unbiased is an empty argument. We all have biases, it's human nature. However, I believe that not allowing bias to enter your work is still an essential component of journalism.

    FOX News obviously has an interest in the Republican Party (MSNBC with the democrats). It's a sad state to see financial interests play a role in journalism, although I can't fault any reporter who is forced to contend with it.

    YGBFKM Guest

    Completely impossible and has been since the dawn of time. Biases are related to how you view the world and its surrounding, so to write even the simplest story, subjectivity is going to come into play. I'd be interested in the views of the person who came up with the idea of journalistic objectivity.

    YGBFKM Guest

    Well, MC, that might be one way for newspapers to survive. Readers can get bland play-by-play (and I'm not talking about sports, but the general regurgitation of "news") from an unlimited number of sources. Print journalists shouldn't be so damn afraid to tell readers what they think regarding subjects they should know more about than the average person.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    It goes without saying, which is why I'm saying it, that I agree with this.
  7. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    Full disclosure:
    I hate my job and am only doing this to collect a paycheck until I finish grad school.

    I don't care if your drug-dealing son's basketball team wins this weekend or not, and I couldn't care less how many goals your soon-to-be pregnant 14-year-old daughter scored for her soccer team this season.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Journalists don't "have" to do anything. That's kinda what the First Amendment is all about.
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I also completely agree.

    What's the point of having a reporter on a beat and then tell them they can't be an expert on what they cover?

    Just seems contrary.
  10. CRR13

    CRR13 Member

    I remember a line from a sports writing book I read recently that sums it up well. Unless you're going to get something original, why bother sending someone to cover a big game instead of taking the wire version? Commentary should be a part of the sports section, unless you're a few minutes away from deadline.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I agree with Mutter more often than not, but I think he must have missed something essential during his newspaper career if he believes objectivity is unattainable. In my experience -- having worked in newsrooms run by Democrats and newsrooms run by Republicans -- most journalists are skeptical of politicians of any ilk and will eagerly expose malfeasance by any politician because getting the goods on someone is a professional thrill we won't deny ourselves just because that politician happens to hold beliefs similar to our own.

    This is the truth. This does not become less true because nowadays some people listen to too much radio and television commentary.

    As for the business aspect, journalists I respect and even admire disagree with me about this, but I believe opinions are easy to come by and real reporting is not, and that it makes business sense to focus on providing what's in short supply rather than what's in vast supply. I also think most newspapers suck at opinion writing -- and even those few that don't suck won't ever be able to be as nasty (and thus as entertaining) as other media because mainstream local advertisers won't tolerate it.
  12. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    You should be careful there, I know someone who doesn't have an asshole.

    But I've told that story before.

    I don't think news reporting suddenly has to become opinion writing. I think more that news stories should go to news analysis. Framing the debate, putting into context and avoiding the he said this, while this other person said that.

    And letting the reporter use their editorial authority to explain the issue.

    Think of it this way, as I was getting ready for the work today, I had on one of the news channels and they were interviewing a Wall Street Journal reporter because his beat was economics. He was explaining why the employment numbers are so bad and why.

    But unless it was a column, generally speaking, that reporter couldn't use himself as a source for a story he was writing. He'd need to find someone for one take and then another person to take the opposite take.

    Eventually he'd write a story and spent most of his day chasing sources when he could have written the piece just based on his expertise.

    How is that bad?
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