James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Objective Journalism is Stupid

Sean Haugh writes:

People act as if objective journalism is the only kind of legitimate journalism that has ever existed, when in fact the notion is only about 100 years old. It used to be that all journalists wore their biases on their sleeves and let a supposedly discerning reader sift through it to find their own opinion. Did you ever wonder why several small town newspapers still have names like the Democrat or the Progressive? Because when they were founded, that was their explicit editorial and reporting policy.

Truly objective journalism has always been impossible. To achieve it, one would have to write impractically long accounts including every single relevant fact. Yet the TV news is only on for 30 or 60 minutes. The first decision any reporter has to make is what narrow set of facts to include and which must be set aside. And that's just for one story. All the news that is fit to print is far more than can fit in a daily newspaper.

Let's face it, we're biased creatures. The vast majority of news stories are written with a predetermined point to make. It is a very rare person who can give full balance to all points of view on any issue. The best any media outlet can do is offer a variety of reports and opinions to achieve any balanced coverage.

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