Suzie at Echidne’s has a must-read post today on the myth of journalistic objectivity. Read it with OBESITY CRISIS!!! reporting in mind, and it’ll knock your socks off.
Journalists make some exceptions for columns and features, but for news, they are supposed to put aside feelings, biases, beliefs, experiences, cultural norms, values – everything that makes them an individual. But what if people can’t catalog everything that has influenced them? What if a residue of prejudice remains? What if they can’t tease apart mixed feelings?
Stories are more than lists of facts; journalists describe what they perceive. They often interpret what others say. They use their judgment to decide which issues and events to cover, whom to quote, which quotes to use, what material to include, what images to shoot, how to edit it, how to play the story, etc.
They are not scientists staring into a petri dish. News coverage influences stories. How can journalists be objective when they are part of the action?
Also, on working in a newsroom where her superiors worried she was pushing some kind of nutty feminist agenda:
They thought that being a feminist made me biased. It didn’t occur to them that not being a feminist was also a political stance. No one is neutral. You challenge the system, or you support it, even if it’s just with your silence and inaction.
Emphasis mine. Discuss!