North Texas Daily

The misinterpretation of objectivity in the media is harmful to all

The misinterpretation of objectivity in the media is harmful to all

The misinterpretation of objectivity in the media is harmful to all
October 25
18:42 2019

In the fractured political climate of today, media outlets must maintain a pretense of objectivity to ensure public approval. Unfortunately, emphasis on presentation can result in the portrayal of uninformed opinions as equal in validity to informed opinions.

Donald Trump’s popularization of the term “fake news” is a deflection tactic meant to undermine the legitimacy of negative media coverage in the eyes of the public. If mainstream media outlets have hypothetically been compromised by corruption, then any disparaging truths they uncover concerning the president can be easily dismissed by his supporters as leftist propaganda. This campaign strategy ruptured the relationship between media outlets and the public to such a degree that reporters’ resulting fear of being perceived as untrustworthy has had the ironic effect of making them more susceptible to corruption.

Media outlets feel so obligated to provide all parties with platforms that they inadvertently end up depicting opinions as facts.

Despite their dedication to preserving a reputable persona, many news outlets, such as the somewhat liberal CNN or MSNBC, find themselves incapable of concealing their political preferences, though the notoriously conservative channel Fox News seems to have actually been liberated from censorship since the 2016 election.

Whereas more liberal media outlets have found their movements restricted by this new bout of unwarranted public scrutiny, conservatively inclined outlets have, conveniently enough, become less selective with their wording.

It is almost as though the phrase “fake news” was reintroduced into American society not as a legitimate critique of mainstream media, but as a political maneuver meant to create distance between the general public and the system they once entrusted with supervising their government.

I would go so far as to argue that it is ethically dubious for a media outlet to strive for objectivity when such an aspiration is patently impossible to achieve in its entirety. Journalists are as susceptible to human emotion as anyone, and to pretend otherwise is both futile and fundamentally dishonest. In order to inform the public to the best of their respective abilities, reporters must come to terms with their own limitations, relay facts instead of indulging in speculative rhetoric and resist succumbing to pressure applied by those in possession of political power.

Where news outlets fall on the political spectrum should be determined primarily by facts. If the facts support a liberal agenda, than eschewing them in order to appease conservatives doesn’t make an outlet objective so much as conservative, even if the audience fails to recognize that distinction.

Basically, journalists should be permitted to express an opinion on politics as long as the opinion in question is not unsubstantiated and the public is made aware of the facts that corroborate the argument.

The media does not exist to coddle an audience for the sake of staving off controversy. It exists to hold those in power accountable by keeping the public informed of their misdeeds. It is incredibly dangerous of news outlets to equate objectivity with preserving a pretence of non partisanship at the expense of relaying actual facts.

A public that cannot distinguish between reality and spirited speculation is not an informed public at all.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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