Journalist argue over our modern objectivity standard in journalism. Popular demand for more opinion and less fact turns up the heat.
Here is my comment on David Bresnahan’s blog post:
True objectivity is probably unattainable, as is perfection in most anything, but that does not mean the pursuit of the ideal should be abandoned or discounted.
I also agree that the landscape of journalism has changed dramatically, putting economic pressure on our ideals. The appearance of 24-hour, worldwide television reporting and the never-ending pressure to provide new material encouraged the loosening of standards (or the opening of the gates, whichever you prefer). In the age of Internet, that pressure now also encourages this re-examination of the objectivity ideal as it evolved in modern history.
I think some news consumers *believe* they want us to be objective, but increasingly many are no longer even aware of the standard (at least in the U.S.) And even if they are, as news consumers we all naturally tend to gravitate toward those who agree with our own views, hence the market niches that yearned to be filled by the likes of FOX and MSNBC and the lowered expectations of UK publications. The burgeoning of the opinionated blogosphere is also inevitable for this reason.
But balance must be demanded by more than market forces, which, after all, often reward the blatantly immoral. If we are to be useful to our society over the long run, we must continue to strive to provide balance in our reporting and encourage it in others, as David has done here.
“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against,” advised the Zen master Sent-t’san more than 1,300 years ago. “The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”