Objectivity in Journalism

Lack of objectivity in journalism threatens the very worthiness of the profession. Objectivity on the part of reporters, editors, publishers, and news directors go a long way to restore public trust and confidence in the profession. H. A. Myrick defined objectivity “As the expressing, or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations”. Objectivity in journalism ensures that personal feelings and opinions are put aside in order to avoid distorting the facts.

Dealing only with the facts and putting personal opinions and feelings aside continue to be a challenge for journalists, editors, newscasters, and news directors. Some journalists argue that it is easy to talk about objectivity in journalism; however, it is nonexistent in actuality. This philosophy by some journalists underscores the relevance of the term journalistic objectivity. The news consuming public wonders as to whether or not the achievement of objectivity in news reporting is even possible. According to H. A Myrick,, “It is clear that, it is the interposition of the human element in the business of perceiving, processing, and interpreting information through the prism of personal feelings and, yes, prejudices that determines objectivity”.

It is imperative to understand that objectivity is achievable, but only at the expense of sacrificing personal opinions and feelings. The American public looks to the media and news organizations for objectivity, fairness, accuracy, and credible reporting. Unfortunately, that is not what the public sees. It is critical to understand that journalists have a responsibility of reporting accurate and unbiased news. Journalists who want to keep their job often face the dilemma of singing to the tune of their editors while attempting to provide objective reporting. These influences challenge journalistic objectivity. The crucial point here is that these journalists are often times under pressure to twist objectivity in order to fulfill the needs and wants of their editors, publishers, and news directors.

These kinds of influences drag the good name of the journalism profession into the mud. It is important to note that journalists must be free to report objective news without any fear of repercussion. Twisting the truth is detrimental to the very core of the ethics of the profession. Editors and news directors, who seek to influence journalists’ objectivity, are not only destroying the journalism profession, but are influencing the news consuming public to make wrong judgments. There is the need for editors and news directors to refrain from influencing journalists’ objectivity. Biased reporting leads to misleading facts, and under no circumstance should this behavior influence reporters. The desire to keep one’s job should not in any way interfere with accurate reporting and objectivity.

Another obstacle to achieving journalistic objectivity is the continuing influence of politicians and other business interests. Journalism in the 21st century is taking a whole new level. There seems to be more threats to the profession than ever. It is a dangerous precedent to allow bias to get in the news. This will dangerously cause editors and news directors to inject their political biases in the news. Once bias gets into accurate reporting, liberal and conservative feud begin to cloud objectivity and the facts as a consequence. Personal opinions and feelings also get in the way of achieving objectivity in the news. The danger here is that when personal opinions and feelings cannot be separated from objective reporting, accurate reporting will be compromised to a greater degree.

The former CBS Evening News Anchor, in the person of Walter Cronkite, who recently passed away, was esteemed high by all news organizations and cable news as far as objectivity, honesty, and integrity were concerned. Mark F. contends that he once asked Walter Cronkite whether he had opinions of his own; Mr. Cronkite replied heatedly, “You bet I do, very strong opinions, yet I would never give them with the news because this would hurt my objectivity…. I choose to do only unbiased reporting. I give you the news, and I don’t help you make the judgment”. What was fascinating about Walter Cronkite was the fact that he was committed to separating his personal opinions and feelings from the facts. Journalists, reporters, publishers, and news directors will do a great job by emulating his example.

The greatest threat to journalistic objectivity is using propaganda to carry one’s viewpoints across for political purposes. This poses a grave danger to objectivity as far as journalism is concerned. Let’s remember that biased and inaccurate reporting affect the news consuming public’s ability to make sound and reasoned judgments.


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