Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ideology and the Journalist

"Objectivity. Detachment. Impartiality. Many journalists wear these credentials as a referee in a football game might wear his pinstripes to indicate his neutral role on the playing reality - journalists can no more disconnect themselves from their worldviews and value systems than can anyone else," (The Mind of a Journalist, 61). In class, we discussed how journalists, or anyone for that matter, cannot be truly objective in any situation. I agree with the notion that our experiences, backgrounds, upbringings, etc., affect us in such a way that we really never can check our biases at the door. Many newsrooms have Codes of Ethics, such as this one that states, "He/she is, and must be, basically objective, especially in his/her interpretation of events in daily life and in attributing to each news item the location, space, importance, interpretation that it truly deserves." Ironic, huh? I think so. How are newsrooms supposed to require their reporters to be objective, when it's essentially impossible? I think they should encourage their journalists to find the facts and be as balanced as possible. Michael Perlstein said regarding objectivity, "A nobel goal, perhaps, but a goal that can never be attained," (Mind, 63).
Sociologist, Herbert J. Gans described eight different journalstic values (I have linked some examples):
1. Ethnocentrism - Viewing the world through the lens of your own culture. Onmy study abroad to London, England, we talked alot about trying to break down those barriers that cause us to judge different cultures. We must learn to be as open-minded as possible.
2. Altruistic Democracy - Writing articles on "government for the people by the people"
3. Responsible Capitalism - Threats to this value are seen as news
4. Order - Crime is a big news story because it's a threat to Americans who value order.
5. Moderatism - Americans fear extremites like fascism or communism.
6. Leadership - Journalists can focus on poor leaders as well as heroes who lead others out of trouble.
7. Small-Town Pastoralism - longing for simpler times, nostalgia.
8. Rugged Individualism - living the American Dream
These are all reasons why reporters choose the stories they do.
Is the media as a whole biased? FOX News has said they are conservative, to offset the other news stations' liberal views. But, John Goldberg, who currently works for FOX but used to work at CBS for years said that there was rampant bias in CBS, more so than FOX. People may argue that the media is too liberal.
Personally, I think that ideology should be recognized. Clearly, we are not going to get rid of it, so people must be wary and take it into consideration.

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