Can a Journalist Be Objective?

Photo by: Courtesy of: Project Smart

Story By: Gage Carmichael, Reporter

“But Gage, aren’t you a journalist yourself?” Yes, I am.

So, why wouldn’t I defend the integrity of myself, my colleagues and the profession I hope to work in? Because I do not think one should “lie to protect the integrity of their organization.”

I do not think a journalist can be totally objective. Objectivity is an ideal to strive for, but an impossible standard to live up to.

The journalist’s job is to research the story and find the truth, and part of the job is accurately portraying that information without bias.

We are all human, with our own motives, ideas and flaws. It would be impossible to eliminate those characteristics from ourselves. Still, journalists should strive to put those characteristics aside to give an objective narrative to the news.

I think I do a pretty good job at corralling my emotions and focusing on the facts. But is it really all that horrible when news gets subjective? Right now, you’re reading a story in which a journalist is conveying their opinion of something.

Maybe this story will give you better insight on objectivism vs subjectivism, maybe it doesn’t.
What I know for certain is that if you’ve made it this far you must think what I’m writing is sort of interesting.

News is informative, but isn’t it also supposed to be interesting?

If we look at breaking news and analyze what makes a breaking news story we would discover that breaking news develops because of how many news values are attached to the story. News value defines how a journalist categorizes a story. These news values compile together to show how relevant a story is going to be.

But what makes good news value? It’s up to the reporters and the editorial board. Those determinations, those choices, are ultimately subjective decisions.

Therefore, journalists must be subjective in order to effectively relay the story to their audience.

We think of news value as the most topical news, we think of proximity and timing. But a news value that no one thinks of is the unique perspective that every writer brings to a piece. Their beliefs, their prejudices, their past, and their present.

Leaning too much on these ideas could lead journalists to crafting news stories that have more in common with fiction than reality.

But that’s where trust and judgement come in.