Dot’s Reading Room: How Objectivity in Journalism has Become a Matter of Opinion

Lately, there has been a flurry of articles on the issue of objectivity in journalism.  But wait, haven’t we always been taught as journalists to be as objective as possible?  I recall that as a hallmark of my college J classes.  Of course, a reporter or writer or editor was “objective.”

But what does that really mean?  As a white, older woman I acknowledge that I have inherent biases, despite my belief that I can write about a subject with objectivity, giving full weight to both sides of an argument.  (And that, my friends, is now known with scorn as “he said-she said” or “bothsidesism.”)

The Columbia Journalism Review has tackled this subject recently and a compelling article in the Economist magazine of July 16 takes it on as well, in this piece: “How Objectivity in Journalism Became a Matter of Opinion.” You can read it here:

Note: the Economist would like for you to subscribe but if you register, you can read a few articles per month without charge.

The one I mention is well worth reading. The author writes, “As correspondents covered the widespread protests on the streets of America in recent months, many were engaged in a parallel protest of their own—against their employers. On private Slack channels, public Twitter feeds and in op-ed columns, journalists revolted. Editors apologized, promised change, and in some cases were sacked, their downfall promptly is written up in their own papers. The immediate cause of this rebellion is race: how it is reported and how it is represented among staff.”

The article points to other staff “rebellions” at the Washington Post and the New York Times, as a new generation of journalists questions whether in a hyper-partisan, digital world, objectivity is even desirable.

Here at The Bedford Citizen, standing true to earlier principles now up for scrutiny, we still adhere to the notion of presenting local news as “objectively, factually, and honestly” as possible. What say you, readers?

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