Journalists should express their ideologies and opinions while covering poverty, however, at the same time they should aim to maintain the objectivity and impartiality standards for effective and truthful and accurate reporting.
In news reporting, objectivity is seen as one of the chief values for journalists. The objectivity norm guides to separate the facts from opinions and focus on reporting only the factual content, resulting in neutral and detached reports rather than emotional ones (Schudson, 2001). On the other hand, reporting poverty appears as a more complex and sensitive issue which may often require the journalist to put forward some of their views to provide the reader with more realistic portrayal of a situation.
One suggested approach for journalists reporting on poverty is to focus on their social commitments. The concept of social responsibility being one of the four theories of the press presents the argument that freedom of the media must be balanced by the social commitments and responsibilities (Siebert, 1956). The news should be controlled by community opinions and ethics, while journalists need to be free from influences and abstain from violating people’s rights. The reporters have the duty to provide the readers with well-structured and contextualized news in a comprehensive manner, giving a range of diverse values and views. Furthermore, the journalists should aim to go beyond entertaining and informing the audience and provide an insightful analysis of the serious issues (Ward, 2009). Once the issue has been highlighted, the public awareness is increased and responsible bodies and organisations can be established. Subsequently, the journalist may present solution for the situation – in which case the notion of social responsibility is usually presented by seeking equality and promoting well-being, in detailed and honest reporting.
James Cameron, a veteran journalists argued that subjectivity can be a valuable element of reporting and wrote: “Objectivity in some circumstances is both meaningless and impossible. I still do not see how a reporter attempting to define a situation involving some sort of ethical conflict can do it with sufficient demonstrable neutrality to fulfil some arbitrary concept of objectivity (Cameron, 1968, cited in Harcup, 2009: 86).” Similarly, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News claims that the key concept in reporting is to be fair; recognise one’s dispositions and balance them with alternative points of view. He maintains that a journalist cannot be completely neutral as humans are naturally moved by their emotions (cited in Roy, 2002).
The notion of objectivity as a standard norm in reporting has been gradually adopted, marking the beginning of commercial journalism. The development of wire services such as Associated Press in 1848, introduced a market imperative to concentrate on the bare facts. The news stories were following the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure with the key points included in the...