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Survey shows utter futility of journalists’ attempts to prove they are objective, signaling it is time to move-on to partisan news 1/10/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Bias, Objectivity.

Romenesko reports on a shocking survey that ought to end the debate about whether journalism should continue its century-old ideal of objectivity, or move to a model of multiple partisan outlets engaged in honest argumentation. 88% now believe that the news media does attempt to influence public opinion. Worse still, 80% do not believe most news reports. If journalists saw such numbers from a candidate, they’d have no doubt that the politician must either make big changes or suffer a humiliating defeat. Yet, they seem completely blind to the dangers when the subject is themselves. No, it is not about how good news media outlets’ web sites are, or about whether their work is supplemented by the journalism of “citizens,” more than 80% of whom apparently think their work stinks. It is about a super-landslide majority of the public feeling they are being betrayed by journalists’ false promises.

The solution is literally right in front of their noses, sitting on their computer screens. The blogosphere has shown us that news consumers actually like opinions. They think of them as helpful perspectives that fill-in the gaps, allowing them to make their own, more informed decisions. They do not view opinions as contaminants of facts, as long as everyone understands that the content is not the truth, but simply what the writer believes to be the truth. Until 100 years ago, the news consisted of a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. And it will again, soon, leaving behind the objectivity dinosaurs who insist upon the sanctity of a model that never, ever worked in the first place.


1. Peter - 1/10/08

—> 88% now believe that the news media does attempt to influence public opinion.

Is that surprising? Media do influence public opinion, by definition.

—> (opinions…)They think of them as helpful perspectives that fill-in the gaps…

Of course, but who will write the stuff in-between those gaps, if not media? 😉

2. Steve Boriss - 1/10/08

Peter, Media do influence public opinion by my definition, too, but we have had a strange Modern Journalism movement for a century that claims they are simply providing us with objective facts without opinion, and that they are not trying to influence our opinions. It is impossible to be objective and impossible for them not to try to influence our opinions. I say, let’s give them permission to change our opinions and open the marketplace to multitudes of others trying to do the same.

3. Pay-for online venture aims at dethroning Le Monde « Online Journalism Blog - 1/12/08

[…] journalism holds the future, but the French media landscape is already saturated with socialist-leaning brands. In a country […]

4. Brian H - 1/17/08

Steve; exactly. “Things are seldom what they seem; skim milk masquerades as cream!”

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