- Pattern Languages
- Liberating Voices
- Civic Intelligence
- Digital Resources
Diversity Instead of Objectivity
Pattern number within this pattern set:906
R Y Shah
The Galatic Institute of Root Journalism
Professional journalism purports the idea that individuals as well as entire institutions can be objective. This claim flies in the face of human nature as we all know it. Especially when one considers that journalists work to report stories of human interest.
The only way we can truly combat bias is to have a wide range of viewpoints delivering their own unique perspective on a singular issue. From these diverse reports the shape of the actual Truth should emerge.
The idea of neutrality in journalism came during the mass acquisition of independent newsrooms by conglomerations. Before that, newspapers had perspective - often a populist one, which was aligned with the downtrodden masses.
Nowadays news productions pride themselves on their apparent objective outlook, while failing to recognize the inherent biases disguised in their seemingly neutral overtones. Whats more, a fear of appeared biased stops many newsrooms from taking any meaningful stands that would serve in the publics favor. As William Greider states in his book, Who Will Tell the People,
The suggestion that a newspaper ought to accept its own responsibility to democracy would be a radical proposition in any newsroom. Newspapers have learned to stand aloof from such questions, in order to protect their pretensions of objectivity. A newspaper that took responsibility for its own readers would assume some of the burden for what they know and understand (and what they dont know and understand). In would undertake to reconnect them with political power and to invent forms of accountability between citizens and those in power that people could use and believe in.
The fear of appearing biased is so strong that news people choose instead to leave issues vague and partially illuminated, much to the readers detriment, and society overall. Good, efficient and thorough reporting requires that one takes a stand. Personal beliefs should be tolerated as long as actual news is reported with journalistic integrity. That is to say that all the featured material and facts are true, all related parties are equally represented.
This might seem like a preposterous suggestion to make to openly accept that human beings by nature cannot be objective and to have the news community work instead to defend values they believe in and it is considering the current landscape of the American media.
What must happen in order for American society to benefit from a distinct viewpoint in the newsroom is a clear effort by American government and the American people to maintain a diversity of viewpoints in all news mediums. This means reestablishing old FCC regulations that restrict how many news outlets any one person or corporation can own (ie. to tell Rupert Murdoch to suck it.)
In addition, it should be recognized that news is unlike any other industry when it comes to capitalist enterprise. It is a social service above all else, and should serve the people before serving the bottom line. There should be publically sponsored news networks alongside privately funded networks. (This is discussed in further detail in the pattern, Mix Funding.)
Many people fail to recognize that the history of objectivity in news rooms is a limited one. The concept was born amidst the mass acquisition of small local papers, which is far from coincidental. Old reporters did not think about whether or not they appeared neutral back in day, they didnt have to. Nor did readers necessarily care about neutrality (which is not to say that they didnt care about the truth.) If you didnt like the way a particular paper gave its news, you found a different paper, there were hundreds of them to choose from. Today we dont have that luxury, and so we rely upon purported claims of objectivity a subjective principle that cannot be calibrated in any substantial way by either reporters, editors or readers.