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Journalism and Objectivity
Vanity | 11/16/2009 | Vanity

Posted on 11/16/2009 7:49:48 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion

"What they do is their business," Dobbs said yesterday. "I tried to accommodate them as best I could, but I've said for many years now that neutrality is not part of my being." [CNN boss Jonathan] Klein long believed Dobbs was at odds with CNN's desire to position itself as an opinion-free, middle-of-the-road alternative to its cable news rivals -- conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC.

Dobbs got $8M to quit
Ny Post ^ | Nov. 16, 2009 | MICHAEL SHAIN

A man once, upon learning that I'm conservative, said "You probably think that journalism isn't objective." I was shocked to find myself making a weak, defensive argument, and have thought long and hard about how I "shoulda coulda woulda" responded. My conclusion is that I should have said IMHO it would be hard to answer "No" to any of those questions - and hard to avoid the conclusion that they inexorably point to. An actual attempt at objectivity would always begin with an open consideration of the possible reasons why the writer might not be objective. And that is never seen in journalism.

The most fundamental desire of journalism is to attract an attentive audience, and to be able to exploit that ability for fun and profit. The linchpin of the influence of AP journalism being perishable news - news that will soon no longer be new - journalism inexorably presses upon the public the idea that the news is important. The more important you think the news is, the less attention you will pay to things which change less, or not at all. That is why AP journalism is inherently anti conservative. Journalism also is maximally important when there is a crisis requiring public notice and action. But of course a putative crisis "requiring" government action implies that the powers-that-be have not already taken whatever action is needed, which is why the public should attend to the journalist and influence the politician accordingly. Again that makes the journalist anti conservative.

Another way of stating the above paragraph is to note that journalism's rules include "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper," and "If it bleeds, it leads." The former rule simply says that only what the public doesn't know yet matters, and the latter says that the bad news is most important. Journalism's rules also enjoin the editor that "Man Bites Dog" is news, and "Dog Bites Man" is not news. Which means that business-as-usual is not news, and if anything is reported in the newspaper it is probably not typical of what normally characterizes society.

Most people never, in their entire lives, commit a murder or even know anyone who did commit a murder - but you will find plentiful stories about murders, and demands for the disarming of the general public, but rarely mention of how statistically rare murder actually is or how frequently the law-abiding use or, more commonly merely threaten to use, weapons to prevent crime. Likewise if our troops suffer casualties and deaths in Iraq or Afghanistan that is news - even though the overwhelming majority of our troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan without a scratch, and also with scant if any notice by journalism. All that comports with the rules of journalism - but the rules of journalism comport with the interest of journalism. The rules of journalism purport to be about the public interest, but actually are only about interesting the public. And the two things are not only different, they are often in contradiction. So we see that journalism inherently has an embedded anti conservative agenda.

Journalism goes through the motions of "getting both sides of the story" - but as long as

Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin Franklin

there can be no guarantee that the reporter can even see all sides of the story.

The price of any serious attempt at objectivity is to have the humility to scrutinize one's own motives. In that respect, "objective journalism" doesn't even seriously try to be objective.



TOPICS: Politics
KEYWORDS: ap; associatedpress; bias; cnn; enemedia; journalism; liberalfascism; liberalmedia; mediabias; telegraph
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The Right to Know

Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate

4 Advances that Set News Back

The Right to Know

Why the Associated Press is Pernicious to the Public Interest

The Market for Conservative-Based News

1 posted on 11/16/2009 7:49:48 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: LS; abb; Anima Mundi; ebiskit; TenthAmendmentChampion; Obadiah; Mind-numbed Robot; A.Hun; ...

Ping.


2 posted on 11/16/2009 7:51:03 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (Anyone who claims to be objective marks himself as hopelessly subjective.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT


3 posted on 11/16/2009 8:14:38 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Great post and current example c_I_c to dovetail into your fabulous commentary, research, links-education. Thanks for your outstanding contributions to this forum.

BUMP-TO-THE-TOP!


4 posted on 11/16/2009 9:10:24 AM PST by PGalt
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

*bump*


5 posted on 11/16/2009 2:22:22 PM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

A beautiful demonstration of the MSM lack of objectivity was on last night’s news when Andrea Mitchell was doing a hatchett job on Palin’s book and brought up a passage that disparagingly referred to Mitchell herself. The fact that she was even allowed to do a story on a book that made fun of her speaks volumes about the disappearance of even the most basic effort to achieve objectivity in modern reporting. Once upon a time, journalistic ethics (yes, they DID exist at one time) would have prevented Mitchell from reporting this story.


6 posted on 11/16/2009 2:34:17 PM PST by In Maryland ("Impromptu Obamanomics is getting scarier by the day ..." - Caroline Baum)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

BTTT!


7 posted on 11/16/2009 8:17:18 PM PST by PGalt
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
A joke I heard told once (by Don Henley, of all people) is that "AP" stands for "Accuracy Problem". Of course, for something to be funny, it has to contain an element of truth.

The AP is, IMNSHO, the #1 reason the mainstream media are so biased. Every newsroom in which I've ever worked has subscribed to AP, and it's regarded as impartial, the best source of facts available short of a first-person interview. Truth be told, AP is just another CommieLib propaganda outlet, which has infected every mainstream newsroom in America, be it radio, TV or print. Furthermore, their writing is atrocious, on the local level especially!

Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!

8 posted on 11/16/2009 9:01:47 PM PST by wku man (Who says conservatives don't rock? Go to www.myspace.com/rockfromtheright)
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To: wku man
The AP is, IMNSHO, the #1 reason the mainstream media are so biased. Every newsroom in which I've ever worked has subscribed to AP, and it's regarded as impartial, the best source of facts available short of a first-person interview. Truth be told, AP is just another CommieLib propaganda outlet, which has infected every mainstream newsroom in America, be it radio, TV or print. Furthermore, their writing is atrocious, on the local level especially!
It sounds silly to me now, but for decades after I caught on to the existence of the tendentiousness of journalism I wondered why journalism changed from the open political argumentation of the founding era to the pretentious "objectivity" (leaving aside only the editorial page tucked into the back of the first section) which we have always known. I happened to see
Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails:
The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War
by Tom Wheeler
in the library, and suddenly I knew: the thing that transformed journalism was the telegraph. And upon a trivial amount of investigation,
News Over the Wires:
The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America, 1844-1897
by Menahem Blondheim
that the AP was the mechanism by which the telegraph transformed the newspaper business.

The interesting thing is that, according to 4 Advances that Set News Back, the AP was found by SCOTUS to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1945. It would seem that all manner of slander and tendentiousness (under color of law in the sense that there are, contrary the the First Amendment IMHO, laws like McCain-Feingold which are predicated on the objectivity of journalism) which could be causes of action in civil court. Perhaps even triple damages under RICO . . .

The AP is an anachronism in the sense that its reason for existence was the economical transmission of the news quickly over long distances - and bandwidth is now so cheap, and the Internet so pervasive, as to transcend the AP for that mission. Now it is simply the mechanism which homogenized, and continues to homogenize, reporting. At the 9/12 rally in Washington I carried a sign saying,

Think Outside "The Wire" - no AP

Someone should sue it into oblivion.


9 posted on 11/17/2009 4:32:18 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (Anyone who claims to be objective marks himself as hopelessly subjective.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
BTTT.

Well said...and at least Dobbs had the intellectual honesty to stand up to CNN's nonsense and remove himself from that den of iniquity.

10 posted on 11/19/2009 3:50:35 PM PST by T Lady (The MSM: Pravda West)
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To: T Lady

Bump.


11 posted on 11/19/2009 5:13:11 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (Anyone who claims to be objective marks himself as hopelessly subjective.)
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To: All
But with the citizenry increasingly fitted into a series of silos, the challenge of coming together for a civil, coherent conversation will grow greater.
When the writer speaks of "the challenge of coming together for a civil, coherent conversation," what I hear is the challenge of channeling the public discourse into the left-wing trough which is natural to AP journalism.

Show me someone who claims objectivity - rather than confessing to the reasons why he might not be objective in spite of his best intentions - and I will show you a propagandist.

And if that shoe fits the journalists you have been listening to, what does that tell you?

Do Web readers value journalism enough to pay? (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Los Angeles Times | January 1, 2010 | James Rainey


12 posted on 01/02/2010 12:19:32 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
According to this libtard I work with, it is because Americans aren’t interested in the truth.

Sigh . . .

Tell him/her that

Massive Cuts at ABC News; 300-400 Positions to be Eliminated
TV Newser ^ | Feb. 23, 2010 | Chris Ariens


13 posted on 02/24/2010 7:57:56 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion ( DRAFT PALIN)
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To: All
Everyone is naturally subjective, and the only way to attempt objectivity is to openly face up to known reasons why you would prefer to believe what you do, rather than the opposite. This also means that it is presumptuous to claim to be above labels such as left or right, conservative or liberal.

Claims of objectivity - by journalists or anyone else - are therefore self-falsifying.


14 posted on 02/28/2010 4:20:27 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion ( DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Improving the political discourse resides in the hands of the political majority. Thus far, they have proven themselves unable or (more likely) unwilling to do so. Their rage is rote, not real, and it does none of us any good.
What the writer leaves unsaid, and what I consistently insist on making explicit, is that the Democrats are able to get mileage out that tired tripe, whereas the Republicans cannot, and seldom or never even try it. For the simple reason that the Democratic Party exists in symbiosis with Big Journalism. It now amazes me to realize how long it took me to even identify that fact, let alone analyze the obvious reasons for it.

Big Journalism is in the business of selling the "sizzle" of objectivity and important information - and delivering the "steak" of pandering to our jealousy and base instincts. They claim the mantle of "the public interest" when they are merely delivering superficial and negative fluff systematically designed only to interest the public - which a different matter entirely. Big Journalism can be understood and referred to as a single entity for the simple reason that the newspapers were homogenized by the economics of the Associated Press, membership in which is expensive and the value of which must therefore be maximized. In consequence of which, the various organs of Big Journalism are like the various teams of Major League Baseball - competitive is delivering their product, but cooperative in promoting that product. It is always essentially the same product. So it it nothing to marvel at when journalists say that journalism is objective - of course they would say that. But that claim is self-negating, for the simple reason that subjectivity is the opposite of objectivity, and subjectivity is nothing other than a belief in one's own objectivity.

So the question is not "Why would journalism be in symbiosis with the Democratic Party," the only question is why a politician would not be in symbiosis with journalism. So it appears that the Republican Party, flawed as it is, must actually have some principle which separates it from the symbiosis with journalism which is enjoyed by Democrat politicians.

Rote Rage: My Two Cents on Tempering the Debate Spare Change | 28 March 2010 | David J. Aland


15 posted on 03/29/2010 5:00:12 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion ( DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Another book could be a Who’s Who of leftists, mini biographies listing all the foul garbage they have done, who their connections are, who funds them, etc. Stripping them of any ability to pretend to be honest or objective.
If you think about it at all, you realize that the only way to attempt to be objective is to declare up front all the reasons why you might not be objective.

And that implies that anyone who claims to be objective - i.e., journalists as we have known them all our lives - is not even trying to be objective.

Are there any reasons why journalists might not be objective? Of course - every business has its own interests. Some of the well-known interests of journalism are:

  1. the need for public credulity, including the need for public credulity of journalism's claims of objectivity,

  2. the need to interest the public. The rules which journalists claim to be objective are actually rules to promote their own business by interesting the public.
    • If it bleeds, it leads
    • "'Man Bites Dog' not 'Dog Bites Man."
    • "There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper" (i.e., "meet your deadline, tell the story first").
If journalists declared those interests before reporting their stories, they would be more objective. But, superficially, they might seem less so. And journalism - after all, the root "jour" is French for "day" - is about "what's happening now" rather than about perspective and the big picture.
The Associated Press and the rest of the wire services are useful to exploit scarce communication bandwidth. The wire services homogenize journalism, suppressing the individuality which was originally the hallmark of American newspapers. That homogenization does not make newspapers less tendentious - it magnifies the inherent tendency of the journalist to self-hype. Such individuality as is expressed in the editorial/op ed pages merely serves to "position" the rest of the newspaper (chiefly wire service material) as being objective.

The Internet is an expression of the technological fact that bandwidth now is very plentiful. The internet exposes the homogenization of journalism via wire services as the Nineteenth Century anachronism that it is.

The "objective journalism" emperor has no clothes, and no one in journalism can say so. Although I as an individual FReeper cannot drive that fact into the public discourse, via the internet I can publish it in a form which is accessible worldwide. It is up to talk radio and other opinion leaders to pick up the ball and run with it.

Once dispose of the baseless assumption that journalism is objective, and the idea of having journalists moderate televised political debates becomes risible. Dispense with that assumption, and the question becomes whether, and to what extent, politicians align themselves with the tendencies of journalism. And the answer becomes plain as the nose on your face.

Journalists assign positive labels to those who do align themselves with the interests of journalism, and negative labels to those who do not. I have my own Newspeak-English dictionary:

objective :
reliably promoting the interests of Big Journalism. (usage: always applied to journalists in good standing; never applied to anyone but a journalist)
liberal :
see "objective," except that the usage is reversed: (usage: never applied to any working journalist)
progressive :
see "liberal" (usage: same as for "liberal").
moderate:
see "liberal." (usage: same as for "liberal").
centrist :
see "liberal" (usage: same as for "liberal").
conservative :
rejecting the idea that journalism is a higher calling than providing food, shelter, clothing, fuel, and security; adhering to the dictum of Theodore Roosevelt that: "It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena (usage: applies to people who - unlike those labeled liberal/progressive/moderate/centrist, cannot become "objective" by getting a job as a journalist, and probably cannot even get a job as a journalist.)(antonym:"objective")
right-wing :
see, "conservative."

Original FR post


16 posted on 10/13/2010 7:58:46 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: In Maryland
A beautiful demonstration of the MSM lack of objectivity was on last night’s news when Andrea Mitchell was doing a hatchett job on Palin’s book and brought up a passage that disparagingly referred to Mitchell herself. The fact that she was even allowed to do a story on a book that made fun of her speaks volumes about the disappearance of even the most basic effort to achieve objectivity in modern reporting.
Absolutely.
Once upon a time, journalistic ethics (yes, they DID exist at one time) would have prevented Mitchell from reporting this story.
Considering how well the behavior of journalism can be explained by the self interest of journalism and by a skeptical, if not indeed cynical, reading of codes of journalistic ethics, I confess I have my doubts.

It actually wouldn't have mattered if any other journalist reviewed Palin's denigration of Mitchell or any other "objective" journalist - all journalists have the same self interest in promoting the credulity of the people WRT the claim that all journalists are objective. So it actually doesn't matter whether it is Mitchell herself or some other journalist discussing the subject. None of them are any more objective about that subject than Mitchell herself.

(I'm not sure how I failed to respond to your post on November 16, 2009 when you posted it. Except that I obviously got pretty involved in writing a response to wku man's #8, and just dumb forgot. But better late than never . . .)

17 posted on 10/18/2010 3:05:07 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Speaking to liberal NPR host Diane Rehm, Carter put forth that "public broadcasting networks on radio and television basically tell the honest, objective truth.
Attempting objectivity is an admirable pursuit, but one which must begin with and a self-critical examination of the reasons one might not be objective. Joining a clique of other journalists who all swear to each other's objectivity - or uncritically broadcasting the praise of a sympathetic political figure, is no way to attempt objectivity.

Self-proclaimed "objective" journalists aren't even trying to be objective. They are heavily biased.

And, I think, the Republicans who (want funding for public broadcasting cut) would like for everybody to have one channel that they can watch every day, and that's Fox News."
Naturally any politician, Republican or Democrat, would prefer that the public listen only to the broadcasts which are most sympathetic to him/her self. But in fact, while Fox News is uniquely sympathetic to Republicans, NPR is far from unique in being sympathetic to Democrats. The reason Air America failed so signally is transparent - the niche it sought to fill was already full of "objective" journalists. Who are even more tendentious than Air America could be, since claiming objectivity is an extreme of tendentiousness.
Jimmy Carter Gone Wild
Townhall.com ^ | December 4, 2010 | Bill O'Reilly

18 posted on 12/05/2010 3:37:51 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: All
This proves that smarta$$ is not a journalist but a liberal propagandist, which means he is simply a very subtle, useful tool of left-wing propagandists, an "advance party" if you will.
I like your post.
But I have a quibble about language. You say, "smarta$$ is not a journalist," but then you say, "[he is] a liberal propagandist, which means he is simply a very subtle, useful tool of left-wing propagandists, an "advance party" if you will. "
My point is simply that the wire services in general and the Associated Press in particular united journalism around the self-interest of journalism itself. Journalism is just talk, and

the self interest of journalism is
that its talk is taken to be more important than the action taken by others
to provide food, clothing, shelter, security, energy, and so forth.

This explains why journalism is able to maintain the fatuous conceit of its own objectivity, despite the obvious realtity that journalism is at most part of the truth, and "Half the truth is often a great lie." You can print "both sides of the story" without necessarily getting at the truth of the matter, and that happens all the time. Because the perspective of the journalist defines what he thinks the two sides of the story are. Which may be irrelevant to what is actually going on. And the very fact that the journalist claims to be objective (or, what is the same thing, suffers others to claim it for him) proves that the journalist is not even trying to be objective.

Ironically, it is possible to attempt to be objective only by being open about any reasons why you might not be objective. And claiming to be objective is the very opposite of scrupulously examining your own motives and being open about how they (inevitably) influence your perspective. Therefore,

no "objective journalist" is even trying to actually be objective.

It would be wonderful if we could count on objective information for the mere price of a newspaper. Alas, it is impossible. There can be no substitute for exercising your own judgement. "Anyone who tells you anything else is selling something."

The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .

It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough.
  - Adam Smith

Because the wire services unified journalism, journalism speaks with a single voice (I discount the editorial pages as being a peripheral issue, which function primarily to "position" the rest of the newspaper as being objective). Since journalism speaks with a single voice, there are natural propaganda advantages to agreeing with that unified journalistic voice. So if you don't have any principles other than your own self interest, the path of least resistance is to become a politician who promotes whatever the journalistic voice finds convenient. You can then count on that journalistic voice to give you favorable labels and give your opposition consistently unfavorable PR.

So when you say someone is a propagandist rather than a journalist, you give undue credit to journalism as a profession. Journalism is propaganda.

Is Cain Able? (refreshingly honest about not knowing but..)
HeyMiller ^ | Monday June 6, 2011 | John Miller

The Right to Know


19 posted on 06/07/2011 9:34:03 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: All
There was a swipe at journalistic objectivity: “You cannot be objective when it comes to right and wrong, and Israel is in the right. So I’m a biased journalist and I’m having a great time doing it.”
Breitbart Dishes on Gingrich, Weiner, Palin
The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles ^ | June 13, 2011 | Jonah Lowenfeld
You cannot be objective, period. But you can try to approximate it. But to do so you must make a serious effort to identify, openly, the reasons why you are not objective in a particular case.

That is, you must make statements against your own interest. And it is that which a journalist cannot do while at one and the same time claiming actually to be - or even allowing others to describe him as - objective.

The case is precisely the opposite of Yodda's dictum, "Do or do not. There is no 'try'." We need, therefore, a word which defines one who is actually trying to be objective - but who, in the nature of things, cannot claim or allow others to claim actual objectivity for himself. And there is a word which was coined in ancient Greece essentially for that purpose.

sophist
1542, earlier sophister (c.1380), from L. sophista, sophistes, from Gk. sophistes, from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "wise, clever," of unknown origin. Gk. sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt. Ancient sophists were famous for their clever, specious arguments.
philosopher
O.E. philosophe, from L. philosophus, from Gk. philosophos "philosopher," lit. "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" + sophos "wise, a sage."

"Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty." [Klein]

I admit that the Greeks were discussing "wisdom" rather than "objectivity," but then - is there any substantive difference between the words? Is there any such thing as "unwise objectivity?" Or "non-objective wisdom?" I suggest there is more of a distinction than a difference - and that, etymologically at least, "philosopher" is the word most descriptive of "a person who is trying, not to merely to seem but actually to be, objective."

20 posted on 06/14/2011 5:59:20 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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