Transparency Over Objectivity

AsĀ David Weinberger pointed out in his article about transparency and objectivity, objectivity does not exist to the extent that it is taught in journalism classes. Journalists may like to believe they are telling objective stories to their audiences, but it can’t be done. Every journalist enters a story with personal experiences, pre-conceived notions, biases and different understandings of a topic. As much as both sides of a story are presented and there are an equal amount of sources, the journalist still chooses what quotes to include, what details are relevant and what sources to even interview. All of these factors diminish objectivity, but it doesn’t mean journalists can’t do their job effectively or well. Journalism just needs to be approached from a different perspective.

Transparency is how journalists can still do their jobs effectively and combat the standards established by the unattainable notions of objectivity. Disclosing biases and informing audiences of where journalists are coming from creates a better understanding among readers and journalists. In situations where journalists are transparent, readers know exactly what kind of story they are reading and why a specific angle was taken or why a journalist told a story the way he or she did.

If journalists don’t try to be objective it does not mean they are not telling a story accurately or fairly. They are telling it from their perspective and based on the information they researched. If they feel like one side is acting wrong or unfairly and they have the research to back it up, there is no reason the readers should not trust that story. There aren’t overarching policies or standards that can be applied to journalism because there are so many different situations and cases that can’t be predicted or change over time. Publications have different content and agendas, and this is going to influence both the transparency of the publication and the reporters. The key is being transparent, instead of trying to reach an objective standard that does not exist.

As Weinberge said:

The problem with objectivity is that it tries to show what the world looks like from no particular point of view, which is like wondering what something looks like in the dark.