The Death of Objectivity in Journalism

My local newscasts are becoming more and more unabashedly biased in their reporting.  It's an obvious attempt to counter the competition from opinionated blogs, social media, and other electronic channels of news.  Some might argue that objectivity has been waining for years with the rise of 24-hour news networks that fill their timeslots with left-leaning or right-leaning pundits.  Some might argue that objectivity was always a sham, that all reporting has some level of underlying bias no matter how vehemently their editorial policy aims to be impartial -- the selection of stories to cover, the wording of headlines, the placement and layout all add up to some bias, whether blatant or subtle, whether intentional or subconscious.  Nevertheless, in the last few years alone it appears as if news broadcasters are abandoning any pretense of journalism's golden mantle of objectivity and embracing a new style of in-your-face emotions and opinions. 

Here in New York, WPIX (Channel 11) has completely revamped its news format, adding fiery commentary segments by Greg Mocker (wearing his attacks on the MTA or others as badges of honor) and the bombastic "Lionel" (whose written blog is nowhere near as over-the-top as his televised pieces.)  On FOX-5 (WNYW), they don't even bother to call their on-air talent "reporters" or "journalists" anymore -- their Website lists them as "personalities," like Anne Craig who covers entertainment in giddy fan-girl fashion.  It even fills its airtime with comedians roaming the streets of New York videotaping passersby -- no real news value, just laughs.

I'm not saying this is all necessarily a bad thing.  The staples of television newscasts have become stagnant cliches and could use some shaking up, but the results so far seem amateurish.  We shall see if it results in higher ratings, but is it worth it if we lose the positive goals of objectivity in journalism?  Some of us still want our reporters to at least try to hide their personal biases and just give us the facts so we can ask questions and draw our own conclusions.


Anonymous said…
I mostly read my news rather than watch it, but I've noticed the same worsening trend there as well. I've also noticed more and more lately that when I actually know something about the facts at hand, it's scary how many inaccuracies are reported. I wonder why I ever once thought someone who studied journalism would be an expert in finance/science/politics/etc. No wonder they get it wrong! And they do it so confidently. :P

Barnrat said…
It's more than all this.. it's a well-planned strategy to sway public opinion for political objectives. And it's scary when you understand the full scope and implications of it. Try googling Bruce Springsteen clear channel.

Media corporations are now allowed to buy up television, radio, and newspaper companies within the same city, so citizens get a slanted view, no matter what media they tap into. If a private company gets to control what we hear and read, they ultimately will control what most of us will think, and therefore, how we vote.

One NY congressman has made this particular issue a focus his work in Washington. Google: Maurice Hinchey media reform. Sadly, he's now poised to step down at the end of his term. Hopefully, the torch will be passed to someone who cares. Hopefully some of us will care as well.