Leaders of prominent news organizations are eschewing journalistic objectivity, claiming it is antithetical to a diversity of views in their newsrooms, according to a series of interviews conducted by two journalism scholars.
Former executive editor for The Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr. and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward interviewed over 75 media leaders to gauge how the industry views the concept of “objectivity.” The media figures argued that journalists should include their own beliefs, biases, and experiences to convey truth, and that journalistic objectivity was either unrealistic or undesirable.
“Objectivity has got to go,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor-in-chief at the San Francisco Chronicle.
“[I]ncreasingly, reporters, editors and media critics argue that the concept of journalistic objectivity is a distortion of reality. They point out that the standard was dictated over decades by male editors in predominantly White newsrooms and reinforced their own view of the world,” Downie Jr. wrote. “They believe that pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading “bothsidesism” in covering stories about race, the treatment of women, LGBTQ+ rights, income inequality, climate change and many other subjects. And, in today’s diversifying newsrooms, they feel it negates many of their own identities, life experiences and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work.”
“Journalists of color” and LGBTQ journalists said that reporting objectively “negates their own identity, life experiences and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work,” according to Downie Jr.
Journalists believe objectivity prevents them from accurate reporting, as it bars them from channeling their background and beliefs, the survey found.
“It’s objective by whose standard? … That standard seems to be White, educated, and fairly wealthy,” said Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor at the Associated Press. (RELATED: F*cking A**holes’: The New York Times Fires Editor For Cursing Out a Gun Rights Group)
The media shouldn’t simply use “neutral language” by default, New York Times executive editor Joseph Kahn said. For instance, if there is undisputed evidence of racism or falsehoods, journalists should be direct with readers.
The Los Angeles Times allows their staff to write personal essays so they can share more of their identities, said editor Kevin Merida. Such essays appear on the first page, including a gay reporter’s story about marriage and the legalities of gay marriage.
USA Today has no problem allowing their reporters to write about their own experiences, so long as the stories aren’t too biased, said editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll. She also welcomes a diverse group of journalists to express their experiences when discussing newsworthy stories.
“Among the news leaders who told Heyward and me that they had rejected objectivity as a coverage standard was Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor of the Associated Press.” https://t.co/d9N1DFJI92
— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) January 31, 2023
“What we found has convinced us that truth-seeking news media must move beyond whatever ‘objectivity’ once meant to produce more trustworthy news,” said Downie Jr.
Many of the interviewees seemed to be in support of such a change.
“This appears to be the beginning of another generational shift in American journalism,” Downie Jr. said.
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