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Press Badge   Journalism

Modern journalism is rooted in the 19th century's industrial era and the thinking of the age of progress. As a result, the ideology of reporters tends to be liberal and progressive. Oftentimes, this perspective colors the events that become stories.

"Reporting was an invention of the end of the nineteenth century, but it was a two-part invention: the emergence of the new occupation played off against the industrialization of the newspaper. And while there was much that united the ideology of reporters, there was much that divided the identities of the newspapers for which they worked."

Michael Schudson, "Stories and Information: Two Journalisms in the 1890s," in Discovering the News, (NY: Basic Books) 1978, p. 88

Media objectivity is an important, but often misunderstood, concept for journalists. The term "objectivity" as applied to journalism came into being in the 1920s. It was never meant to suggest that journalists were objective. It came into use as a call for journalists to develop a better, more rigorous, almost scientific method of reporting. The concept was born out of a growing recognition that journalists themselves could never be objective, which is all the more reason for development of a methodology for purging the reporter's subjective views from factual reporting of events.

But some journalists tend to use the notion that personal objectivity cannot be accomplished as an excuse to abandon all efforts to achieve any degree of objectivity. These journalists seek to refute the idea of objectivity. A New York Times reporter said,

"I don't think there is any such thing as objective truth in what we do. There may be quantifiable truths in science. This is not a science, this is a human endeavor that relies on perspective."

The Chicago Tribune publisher Jack Fuller once said,

"Almost nobody talks about objective reporting anymore. The term suggested that journalism was meant to be so utterly disinterested as to be transparent. The report was to be virtually the thing itself, unrefracted by the mind of the reporter. This, of course, involved a hopelessly naive idea from the beginning."

There is a "media culture." Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online Editor states,

"But the simple fact is that everyone knows the big-league media leans to the left. Even liberals know it. A Lou Harris poll revealed that 70 percent of self-described liberals think the media tilts to the left. Meanwhile, a Freedom Forum survey found that 89 percent of journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Their professional heroes — Cronkite, Daniel Schorr, A. J. Liebling, and, most damning, I. F. Stone (see this for more on Izzy) — are uniformly liberal or left-wing." (NRO, Goldberg Variations, Notes and an announcement on media bias, 12-3-01)

Journalism. Liberal, progressive, lacking in objectivity … and reporting to the world not what is … but what they want to see and what they see through their own filters.

Do you believe everything you read in the paper?

Do you believe the Press could be doing a much better job?

We do.


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