Monday, July 28, 2003

I think we're coming to the end of the era of "objectivity" that has dominated journalism over this time. We need to define a new ethic that lends legitimacy to opinion, honestly disclosed and disciplined by some sense of propriety.

Though an opinion journalist myself, I'm certainly not against attempts at objectivity. Indeed I believe the ethic is a more powerful influence than disgruntled readers and viewers often seem to believe; it's simply not true that journalists conspire to slant the news in favor of their friends and causes. Yet it's also true that in claiming "objectivity" the press often sees itself as a perfect arbiter of ultimate truth. This is a pretension beyond human capacity.

The opinion of the press corps tends toward consensus because of an astonishing uniformity of viewpoint. Certain types of people want to become journalists, and they carry certain political and cultural opinions. This self-selection is hardened by peer group pressure. No conspiracy is necessary; journalists quite spontaneously think alike. The problem comes because this group-think is by now divorced from the thoughts and attitudes of readers. To take politics as a test, in 1992, a sample of top Washington reporters and editors voted 89% to 7% for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush.


Exactly. My only objection to this excellent article is that it ignores the pernicious influence of the journalism schools, which are violently politicized and often teach their students a journalistic ethic that holds the journalist responsible for changing the world or serving as a guardian of democracy. This, in practicality, amounts to supporting a Leftist political/social agenda. Hence the farcical advocacy journalism that passes for objectivity at most major outlets. They're taught that Leftist bias is not merely ok, but its actually a virtue above all others. The schools need to be de-politicized before any kind of major progress is made towards ending bias in the media. In the end, it may not be possible and the blogosphere may have to become the answer to Leftist media power.

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