Monday, October 19, 2015

Objectivity in Journalism

DuShuan Headd

In the eyes of many people, a good journalist is somebody that reports a story, and does so accurately and fairly. Casual readers want to know the facts of the story and a good journalist should be able to deliver those facts.

While true that a casual reader wants to know the facts, one must also consider the other side of the equation and all the non-casual readers. Being a digital age now,  it is easy for someone to gravitate towards a particular journalist. The public may keep up with someone in the spotlight with ease. All it takes is the click of a follow button to be able to follow every move of someone on twitter, even a journalist.

Though journalists are supposed to remain unbiased in their coverage, it is worth noting that journalists at the end of the day are human beings just like anyone else. As Meg Heckman states, "Journalists, like other human beings, have friends, families and personal experiences that shape the way we see the world. Our backgrounds influence the questions we ask and the types of stories we like to tell."

If objectivity is the goal, the best way to achieve that is to continue diversifying the newsroom. People of different backgrounds will view stories differently and may offer a different take than the majority.
                                                      Diversity in the newsroom. (

With that in mind, it is important to understand that while a company may ask a journalist to be objective, in reality there's no such thing, something Heckman also notes in her piece. According to Heckman, the thin line journalists walk on is when (or if) it is appropriate to add a bit of "you" in the story you tell.

If you ask me, I believe the answer to when is subjective, but heading in the direction we are, it's no longer a matter of if. There is a time and place for everything, including when to give your personal take.

Again, journalists are human beings which means we were created with opinions and biases. For the non-casual reader, I believe that a journalist's Facebook or twitter profile should reflect their beliefs, character/persona. A lot of readers see journalists as the news since they assuminly know all the facts.  So be it, if a reader is influenced by a journalist's take on something, no one is forcing the reader to agree. What matters most to me in a situation like this is that the journalist remains fair.

"I've inched toward the idea that if we're transparent about our biases, we're more credible than if we pretend we don't have any biases," Sue Burzynki Bullard, an associate professor in the College of Journlaism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincold said.

A journalist should never let his biases hinder his work and stop from reporting the truth to the public. It's a new age in journalism however and going forward I agree with Bullard, transparency about our biases is the best way to go as I believe it shows a connect to the human reader and makes them seem more relatable.

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