Objectivity in Journalism
Merriam Webster defines objectivity as expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations. Objectivity, as defined by the school of media ethics, means standing so far from the community that you see all events and all viewpoints as equally distant and important, or unimportant for that matter. It is employed by giving equal weight to all viewpoints--or, if not, giving all an interesting twist, within taste. The result is a presentation of facts in a true non-partisan manner, and then standing back to "let the reader decide" which view is true.
By going about it this way, we are defining objectivity not by the way we go about gathering and interpreting the news, but by what we actually put in the paper. It can be measured out by allocating so many lines for this group, and so many lines for that group. To be fair, we should spread out our resources as evenly as possible.
The critics get a lot to chew on when that is the definition of objectivity. One form of reaction is to say, "Objectivity is impossible!" No matter how we spread our resources, we'll never get it right. We might as well be honest, and listen to our subjective inner voices, and write and report from a neutral point of view. Some journalists who think that way will surely rely on public journalism as an excuse to paint with a biased brush.
Of course it is impossible for a journalist to be completely objective because journalists are human and humans are subjective by nature. It is possible, however, for journalists to strive to be objective. A journalist may not like the Ku Klux Klan or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes but must understand the need to report about groups and organizations that have an impact on the community. Journalists have to put personal feelings and beliefs aside when dealing with the news. If the ideal of objectivity is hard to grasp, then perhaps better words are fair, impartial, neutral or balanced. It is the last concept of balance that is in practice each day for journalists. Each story a journalist writes must present the facts accurately and provide a balanced view of both sides of the issue. For example, if a journalist finds accurate information about the mayor stealing funds from the public, the mayor must be given the opportunity to respond and explain the circumstances.
The notion that journalists must maintain "objectivity" is a relatively new concept. The early American publishers were involved in politics and helped bring...