It even sounds ugly. Still, ugly as it sounds I’ve thought about it a lot lately. Can we, as journalists, ever attain true neutrality and objectivity? I’m beginning to think the quest is a false one, and readers are better served through honest disclosure.
Consider this essay by Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D. He’s from Park University, which is based in Missouri. His contentions match mine: that zealous non-bias policies in the press amount to intellectual dishonesty, and needlessly coddle media consumers.
Think about the rhetorical wrappers around much of conservative talk radio. “Who’s lookin’ out for ya?” I’ve heard that sentiment several times on air. Well, the host isn’t if he or she feeds me half the facts I need to make up my own mind.
Columbia Journalism Review has a lengthy piece on this issue. One of their suggestions toward a more sensible view on objectivity:
“Journalists (and journalism) must acknowledge, humbly and publicly, that what we do is far more subjective and far less detached than the aura of objectivity implies – and the public wants to believe. If we stop claiming to be mere objective observers, it will not end the charges of bias but will allow us to defend what we do from a more realistic, less hypocritical position.”
Does it make me less of a journalist to admit I voted for Nader in 2000? That I have strong feelings on abortion, same-sex marriage, the war on terrorism, the perceived corporatization of government? I argue no.
But, then again, it might prove to be journalistic heresy.