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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

'The End of Objectivity' in media--if it ever existed

(Editor & Publisher): "Others claim the reporter's rule of remaining objective has never really been the case, and
  • for newspapers to pretend to "hold on" to it in the growing age of online opinions and fast-moving facts only holds them back.
"I'm not a believer in the myth of objectivity to begin with — what we are talking about is fairness," says Keith Woods, dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute.
  • "We may aspire to [objectivity],
Woods explains that as reporters move into new areas, it becomes much harder to keep your opinions to yourself as you move across forms. "Invariably, one leaks into another. Writing a blog, then going on radio or TV to give an opinion, then writing a staff news story is more difficult." He points to the changes in media for readers, who just 10 or 20 years ago had much less opinion- driven content from which to select.
  • Even CNN, which launched more than 25 years ago, has taken a decidedly more personality-driven and opinionated tone, something on display even more so at somewhat newer competitors like MSNBC. When a viewer of those channels turns to a newspaper, in print or online, they may be expecting a slanted viewpoint — and sometimes want one.
"I have given up watching CNN to try to determine who is a pundit and who is a journalist," says Woods. "The public no longer sees the printed page as the only domain of the journalist. They are in all of these forms. The growing trend is that the truth must surpass the 50/50 doctrine. Adds Woods at Poynter: "Whether you quote both sides does not change what is the truth. We allow the 50/50 idea to substitute for truth. Where we often fail is when we may get somebody on one side with deep knowledge, understanding, perspective, and credibility to speak via Poynter.org/Romenesko
  • P.S. No one will stop any of this. There is no governing board to maintain standards, as is often the case in third world Banana Republics. (sm)

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