the difference between ‘fair’ and ‘objective’.

i’m sure others have said this better. feel free to link to them.

as i read and watch the news i am continually surprised by the lazy reporting that comes out under the guise of being objective. i’m not concerned about fox news being a GOP lap-dog, or the fact that every news source actually has some bias – that seems so obvious as to be inconsequential. what bothers me is the method through which all the media outlets, with all their different biases, attempt to fascimilate objectivity.

i read over and over again that so-and-so said “this-and-such” and ‘the opponents’ are saying “that-and-whatever”. but at no point does the journalist bother to look into the facts on their own. we are still left taking the word of whatever sources are quoted. it’s the “crossfire” issue all over again. ‘fair and balanced’ lap-dogging is very different from solid objective reporting. we already know what everyone is saying, that’s a PR job, what we want to know is who has the facts behind them.

for another clear litmus test, look at media reports on issues like abortion. lazy reporters will tell you what the pro-choice people are saying and what the pro-life people are saying. pro-what? who came up with those terms and what do they mean? those are PR terms, not accurate descriptions of anything. everyone i know is pro-choice and pro-life. who could argue with either of those?

and then i see something like this from yahoo news:

Olbermann’s growing popularity — and growing partisanship — along with the response to Clinton’s “Fox News Sunday” interview also indicate…

Since when is any old expression of opinion a show of partisanship? there’s a huge difference between opinion and partisanship. i have plenty of the former, but don’t care much for the latter. objective reporting has come to mean withdrawn reporting. any journalist that steps up, whether supported by the facts or not, and expresses anything outside of quotation marks is suddenly biased and partisan. on this trajectory, journalism becomes merely a megaphone for partisan PR. ‘objectivity’, not ‘bias’ is the lap-dog of the politicians.

hooray for the biased media who bother to do their research. on either, any and all sides.

Comment (1)

  1. Lora

    I’ve often thought that instead of “We report, you decide,” Fox New’s mantra should be, “We opine, you recline.” It just fits better…

    There are various problems with the media. One of the biggest ones is that in olden days, news was perceived as simply that, and not something that should make money. Now (at least tv news) is seen as something that should support itself — it has acquired an entertainment-like feel. Scandals, disasters and fights seem to draw more viewers.

    Another issue with objectivity is funding: who owns the news outlets? Try this: http://www.mediachannel.org/ownership/chart.shtml Every organization has its bias and is unlikely to allow-whether implicitly or explicitly-anything it perceives as going against its corporate interests s.

    My main beef is that I don’t really think there’s any such thing as objectivity. In my experience, how objective someone thinks they personally are usually directly correlates with their ethnic and socio-economic background (the more dominant or powerful the group, the more objective they feel they are), as well as identity superiority. Careful, fair reporting is incredibly lacking, and I’d agree it’s something to be lauded in any journalist or publication. But I’m not sure objectivity per se is attainable.

    Reply

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