Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Myth of Objective Journalism

I don’t watch the news. Well I suppose this isn’t totally true, last month I probably caught about ten minutes of news collectively, which is probably about average. I don’t read the paper either for the most part. I do listen to conservative talk radio however. I do this for two reasons: 1. I know what I’m getting, which is a conservative host that makes no bones about his conservative convictions. 2. What they say normally makes sense to me. When the news begins at the top and bottom of the hour, I turn the radio off until it passes.

It takes no will on my part to abstain from the news, unless you count the will one possesses to avoid pain, for it is truly painful for me to be exposed to what appears to me to be leftist propaganda. This said, I do not think that those who present the news could ever admit that this is what they’re up to, because they’re ignorant of it. Try as they may, I don’t think that they or I, or anyone else for that matter, could be totally objective, even if their lives depended on it. This is due to the filters through which we view the world. I watched the Terri Schiavo case for example, through a set of lenses that causes me to perceive all people as created in the image of God. Contrary to the news stories I saw, which portrayed a political battle between two parties, I saw a young woman being murdered by starvation, while a few in the government tried to save her. Due to my worldview or perspective, even though a political battle did take place, I would have reported that part of the story as a back drop to the fact that an innocent human being was being murdered with impunity. Interestingly enough, I would have then been accused of being biased for doing so.

To make a point using absurdity, what would the reaction be today if a news agency printed a story presenting slavery in a positive light? Society would baulk at the notion, but it hasn’t been that long since such a story could have been published without concern. On the other hand, one could rest assured that any story published by an abolitionist would have most certainly been a negative one.

So what has changed concerning slavery in a century and a half? As far as I know it is now universally condemned? So what has changed regarding objective journalism? I contend: nothing at all if it is not worse! One must remember that the prevailing worldview at that time was modernism, and with its flaws and failures, at least there was ultimately a prevailing belief that right and wrong, good and evil, and the nature of truth itself was objective.

I did watch Fox News a few times and there does at least seem to be an attempt here to realize that news cannot be objective. Consequently the forum seems to endeavor to give “both sides of the story”. Many it seems like to hear both sides of the story and they believe that the “truth” is probably somewhere in the middle? Try applying that reasoning to the slavery debate. I do suppose that this is a step in the right direction, but I still don’t watch it because of the pain it causes me to witness things like the murder of babies being reduced to some silly debate.

What about talk radio, someone might ask, aren’t they biased? The answer to that question is that normally they unabashedly are biased. Furthermore they make no pretence about it, but it’s folly to assume that just because a network, or newspaper, or reporter does not claim to be biased, that they in fact are not. I believe that any claims of objectivity while reporting what happened, or to be current with our times, what is happening, especially when it deals in the realm of political power, should be met with skepticism.

1 comment:

Jonathan Erdman said...

I listen to conservative talk radio as well. For one thing it jives with my beliefs a bit more closely than the other side. However, I must say that I listen to radio primarily because I enjoy it. I will listen to Rush, but not Hannity. Rush is hillarious, satirical, and clever. Hannity is more of the "pulpit pounding" fundamentalist!

Same thing for me with sports radio. I like Cowherd, but not Dan Patrick. Cowherd drinks a six pack of redbull and then goes on the radio and does a stream of consciousness thing and says whatever comes to mind!

Danny: I believe that any claims of objectivity while reporting what happened, or to be current with our times, what is happening, especially when it deals in the realm of political power, should be met with skepticism.

I'll agree with that. I might go so far as to claim that there is no such thing as "human objectivity." Only God has the potential to be truly "objective"....and I wonder if that's even possible!