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When journalists endorse candidates

DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy EaterRight behind you...Registered User regular
edited November 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
The Washington Post recently officially endorsed Obama.

This actually disappoints me. Not in that they endorsed Obama, but that they endorsed anyone. In my opinion, having a journalistic source, especially one that's as respected as the Post, endorse a particular political candidate is in direct conflict with the ideal of objective journalism. I felt the same way earlier this year when the NY Times endorsed Clinton and McCain in the primaries. It's inappropriate for a journalistic source, especially those that are highly respected, to be openly endorsing political candidates.

Dalboz on
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    TheStrangerTheStranger Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    When a journalist endorses a candidate they've lost their objectivity. Any further articles written are opinion pieces.

    TheStranger on
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    real_pochaccoreal_pochacco Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I think endorsing specific people for the primaries is ok.

    And you know when you get down to it, the journalists have opinions, why not know about them so you can take that into account when you read? Everybody has a bias, isn't it better to know what that bias is?

    real_pochacco on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    I'm trying to think of a UK paper that doesn't endorse a political party come the general election. I'm having trouble.

    Bogart on
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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Bogart wrote: »
    I'm trying to think of a UK paper that doesn't endorse a political party come the general election. I'm having trouble.

    I think the guardian doesn't do it offically, it's just everyone knows that they'll be going for the leftyist of the left.

    Certainly all the red-tops are pretty blatant about whom their owner supports.

    BobCesca on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    I dunno, the Guardian was pretty explicit about its support of Red Ken in the recent Mayoral election, wasn't it?

    Bogart on
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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Objectivity is a lie, no one is fair and balanced. Even the best news papers are subjective. What is important is that their subjectivity is made clear from the getgo. I think it is very good of a newspaper to point out where they are coming from as it makes it easier for the public to understand why they are putting the focus on certain subjects and why they interview certain persons.

    As a civilian in the 21st century it is your job to read various sources to create your own fair and balanced image of what is going on in the world and how you should interpret that.

    If you really only want to know the dry facts you should check out Reuters, they do not give any more information other than what happened, where it happened and who was involved. And even they make decisions on what kind of pictures they use (ex: do we want to show the picture with the Pakistanis trying to stop the fire at the Marriott or not?) etcet.

    Aldo on
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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Bogart wrote: »
    I dunno, the Guardian was pretty explicit about its support of Red Ken in the recent Mayoral election, wasn't it?

    I think that was more of a 'dear god, anyone but Boris!' statement. Which, I think most of its readers were also saying whenever the topic came up.

    BobCesca on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Journalist should openly endorse candidates if they have any bias what-so-ever to prevent misdirection and confusion.

    It's actually worse when a journal does not admit to endorsing a candidate but writes with a strong bias.

    DasUberEdward on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2008
    Since when were journalists supposed to be *that* objective? This is the line of reasoning that leads to a YEC being on a talk show 'opposite' people who actually know things.

    The Cat on
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    GrimReaperGrimReaper Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Bogart wrote: »
    I dunno, the Guardian was pretty explicit about its support of Red Ken in the recent Mayoral election, wasn't it?

    I think that was more of a 'dear god, anyone but Boris!' statement. Which, I think most of its readers were also saying whenever the topic came up.

    And yet Boris was voted in, incontrovertible proof that Londoners are insane.

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    BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    GrimReaper wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Bogart wrote: »
    I dunno, the Guardian was pretty explicit about its support of Red Ken in the recent Mayoral election, wasn't it?

    I think that was more of a 'dear god, anyone but Boris!' statement. Which, I think most of its readers were also saying whenever the topic came up.

    And yet Boris was voted in, incontrovertible proof that Londoners are insane.

    Not that we really needed any more proof...it's be a well-known fact for a very long time.

    BobCesca on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Political endorsements come from the paper's editorial board. Any reputable newspaper has a clear barrier between hard news reporting and editorial content. The journalists who write the Post's opinions are not the same people who write their news articles. They probably don't even get invited to the same parties. For a particularly stark divide in news reporting from editorial pieces, see the Wall Street Journal. Its opinion writers are conservative to the point of parody but its news reporters are universally respected. This really isn't a big deal; newspapers have been endorsing candidates in pretty much every election for a long, long time.

    Edit: Here's a delightful quote from Wikipedia on this very topic:

    Hachface on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    Hachface wrote: »
    Political endorsements come from the paper's editorial board.

    Or the owner.

    Bogart on
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    UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Kasyn Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'm with the general consensus here. It would probably be more misleading for publications to not admit their bias and pretend to be 'fair and balanced.' On top of that, it's correctly labelled as an opinion piece. I don't see what the big deal is.

    Did anyone actually read the whole article? It's actually extremely fair and a very well articulated view on both candidates, their policies on just about everything, and the campaigns ran by both of them. It doesn't cover everything, but what it does cover is in no way unjustifiably critical of McCain, and is not overly generous to Obama either.

    UnknownSaint on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    I loved the New Yorker endorsement of Obama.

    Bogart on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    The entire point of the editorial page is to provide a point of view on the issues. Every newspaper has a clear boundary between its editorial/opinion sector and its news sector. The editorial/opinion section of the New York Times is almost universally liberal, but nobody (beyond conservative whackos) would say that their news reporting shows some kind of extreme liberal bias.

    tsmvengy on
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    Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    GrimReaper wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Bogart wrote: »
    I dunno, the Guardian was pretty explicit about its support of Red Ken in the recent Mayoral election, wasn't it?
    I think that was more of a 'dear god, anyone but Boris!' statement. Which, I think most of its readers were also saying whenever the topic came up.
    And yet Boris was voted in, incontrovertible proof that Londoners are insane.
    Well, did Londoners really want Red Ken spending millions of pounds of public money to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution (yeah, I know, Daily Mail, sorry) next year?
    Hachface wrote: »
    Political endorsements come from the paper's editorial board. Any reputable newspaper has a clear barrier between hard news reporting and editorial content. The journalists who write the Post's opinions are not the same people who write their news articles.
    This.

    If a paper can't maintain that division between editorial and objective reporting, then a mere endorsement hardly matters much in the grand scheme of things.

    Andrew_Jay on
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    kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I have no real problems with the editorial staff of a paper endorsing anyone. The only time it's an issue is when people blur the editorial and news groups, which is more a TV thing then a print news thing (see reporters vs analysts, and the times they're the same people in different timeslots)

    kildy on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I was VERY disappointed when the New Yorker did it this year. When they did it back in 2004, I thought it was momentous. TNY had NEVER endorsed a candidate in their 80 year history, and it showed how terrible a president Bush was. Now, it just seems cheap. What they are doing is equating John McCain with Bush, and I don't think anyone is that crazy.

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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    I was VERY disappointed when the New Yorker did it this year. When they did it back in 2004, I thought it was momentous. TNY had NEVER endorsed a candidate in their 80 year history, and it showed how terrible a president Bush was. Now, it just seems cheap. What they are doing is equating John McCain with Bush, and I don't think anyone is that crazy.
    Perhaps they aren't equating McCain/Palin to Bush jr. but they believe the repubs are dangerously crazy in some other way. Or they believe Obama/Biden is just such an awesome ticket that they just had to give their support to them.

    Aldo on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Frankly, the notion that an objective person wouldn't come to a preffered conclusion is silly.

    Incenjucar on
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't mind it. Hell, I heart Lisa Ling and she's just as much in the tank for Obama as we are.

    See, it's very difficult to be truly objective. Whatever you do to try and stay neutral, unless you're outstanding at it or take some fairly extreme measures, sooner or later some bias is going to creep in. (Anderson Cooper is the 'extreme measures' type, deliberately not voting because he's afraid it would color the quality of his reporting.) So unless you're that good at staying neutral, sometimes it's better to just say "Here's my bias, out there for all the world to see. Knowing that..."

    Yes, you've admitted bias. But on the other hand, now you know the journalist's particular perspective, which you can then factor in to their reporting. If they favor one side or the other, hey, they warned you. If they manage to keep their reporting neutral regardless, that's worthy of some real respect as they're proving they're willing to call their own fouls.

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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't really like the idea of an official endorsement of a candidate by news sources like newspapers or TV channels. But on the other hand there are news sources that effectively support one position over the other and while they might not admit it openly, they are not as objective as I'd like. This seems to be the default option back home in NZ anyway - it usually is pretty clear who supports who, but they won't nail their flag to the mast.

    However NZ until the Internet Age was just a collection of regional newspapers/radio stations and one or two national TV/radio channels - so it probably wasn't politic to openly endorse a party or candidate. Whereas in the UK there is a huge number of newspapers so you really can choose a paper that writes to your segment of the community. So if the Sun endorses New Labour just go read the Mail or Express, etc.

    Kalkino on
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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    There's a difference between the editorial staff of a newspaper (which makes the endorsements) and the reporting staff.

    KalTorak on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    It's less broad than you might think in the UK as far as political views in newspapers go. The papers are mostly owned by white, middle to old-aged multi-billionaire businessmen. Murdoch owns the Times, the News of the World and the Sun, Desmond owns the Express, the Barclays own the Telegraph and Rothmere owns the Mail. It's a fairly small segment of society that determine most of the political leanings in the mainstream print media.

    Bogart on
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    OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Gosling wrote: »
    See, it's very difficult to be truly objective. Whatever you do to try and stay neutral, unless you're outstanding at it or take some fairly extreme measures, sooner or later some bias is going to creep in. (Anderson Cooper is the 'extreme measures' type, deliberately not voting because he's afraid it would color the quality of his reporting.) So unless you're that good at staying neutral, sometimes it's better to just say "Here's my bias, out there for all the world to see. Knowing that..."
    The other risk that you run in trying to claim universal objectivity is the possibility for false equivalencies. Not every piece of news about one side of the spectrum needs balanced out with the same type of piece about the other. Not every viewpoint is worthy of being compared to another on equal footing. Sometimes one side is obviously in the wrong, and trying to balance that with something from the other side is ludicrous. Too often, "objectivity" breaks down into "well, I said something bad about these guys, now I have to about the opposition."

    It's maddening.

    OptimusZed on
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    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2008
    Some news outlets manage at least a semblance of impartiality. The Beeb probably has a bias towards the left in the opinions of its staff, but goes to immense pains to present a neutral viewpoint in its reporting. And, in the main, it succeeds.

    Bogart on
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    TorgoTorgo Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Rise from the Gwave. We've gone beyond endorsements. I wanted to talk about who had the willingness to follow through:

    It turns out that Keith Olbermann, the man of endless tirades against the Bush administration, and the McCain/Palin campaign doesn't vote. WTF?

    This has destroyed my respect for this guy. He was jumping the shark the last few weeks with his nightly tirades leading up to the election, but this is absolutely ridiculous.

    I watched Olbermann in the lead up to the election. I was pretty surprised by this. He has a progressive stance that he takes into his show. No one is going to mistake him for someone centrist, or right leaning. If he feels so strongly about his convictions, as witnessed by his FREQUENT rantings, shouldn't he have the obligation to vote?

    Does a person so clearly polemic gain ANYTHING by not voting? Is someone claiming his coverage of the issues is going to be fair because he didn't vote for Obama? It's clear that Obama was his preferred candidate from his coverage.

    No one is going to see voting for him messing with his objectivity, even if the concept of objectivity even exists. Other more centrist journalist might be able to get away with this, but seriously, Keith Olbermann?
    Slate.com discloses who they are voting for and don't see it as interfering with their journalism. Is this a better option than not voting?

    Does anyone know of Bill O'Reilly votes? Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh? Any other polemic figure Keith Olbermann has on his "Worst Persons of the World" feature?

    Torgo on
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    SamSam Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    keith olbermann is always going to be a poor man's o'reilly anyway. Most liberals don't need to be validated by having some sportscaster spout their views and call the opposition a buffoon.
    Thats what Jon Colbert is for

    Sam on
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    WoodroezWoodroez Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Torgo wrote: »
    It turns out that Keith Olbermann, the man of endless tirades against the Bush administration, and the McCain/Palin campaign doesn't vote. WTF?

    Wow, I hate that the View is still on the air.

    (this is almost more a response to the blogger and his commenters than you, torgo.)

    Anyway, while I do think he should have voted, I don't prescribe to the don't vote/don't complain idea. He's a taxpayer (I assume) and a citizen, he deals with the shit that comes from our various levels of government just the same.


    This isn't something I believe either, but will throw it out for consideration: I'm wondering if I'm wrong in thinking that, logically, if one thinks someone who doesn't vote shouldn't have a voice, then should people who vote for someone or something that screws up have a right to complain?

    Woodroez on
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    tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Woodroez wrote: »
    Torgo wrote: »
    It turns out that Keith Olbermann, the man of endless tirades against the Bush administration, and the McCain/Palin campaign doesn't vote. WTF?

    Wow, I hate that the View is still on the air.

    (this is almost more a response to the blogger and his commenters than you, torgo.)

    Anyway, while I do think he should have voted, I don't prescribe to the don't vote/don't complain idea. He's a taxpayer (I assume) and a citizen, he deals with the shit that comes from our various levels of government just the same.


    This isn't something I believe either, but will throw it out for consideration: I'm wondering if I'm wrong in thinking that, logically, if one thinks someone who doesn't vote shouldn't have a voice, then should people who vote for someone or something that screws up have a right to complain?

    The whole thing where he doesn't vote is bullshit because it's not like he's pretending to be some kind of neutral journalistic force.

    If you can't be bothered to go out and vote then yeah, you can't complain. You decided to opt-out of having any say in who is governing you on all levels - from President to fucking Dog Catcher.

    If you vote for someone and it screws up, then yeah, you can complain. But we get to say "told you so" if you voted for someone who we all knew had disastrous policies.

    tsmvengy on
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    OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    Woodroez wrote: »
    Torgo wrote: »
    It turns out that Keith Olbermann, the man of endless tirades against the Bush administration, and the McCain/Palin campaign doesn't vote. WTF?

    Wow, I hate that the View is still on the air.

    (this is almost more a response to the blogger and his commenters than you, torgo.)

    Anyway, while I do think he should have voted, I don't prescribe to the don't vote/don't complain idea. He's a taxpayer (I assume) and a citizen, he deals with the shit that comes from our various levels of government just the same.


    This isn't something I believe either, but will throw it out for consideration: I'm wondering if I'm wrong in thinking that, logically, if one thinks someone who doesn't vote shouldn't have a voice, then should people who vote for someone or something that screws up have a right to complain?

    The whole thing where he doesn't vote is bullshit because it's not like he's pretending to be some kind of neutral journalistic force.

    If you can't be bothered to go out and vote then yeah, you can't complain. You decided to opt-out of having any say in who is governing you on all levels - from President to fucking Dog Catcher.

    If you vote for someone and it screws up, then yeah, you can complain. But we get to say "told you so" if you voted for someone who we all knew had disastrous policies.
    Yeah, that's pretty messed up. Olbermann likes to put on his serious journalism hat at the weirdest and most nonsensical times. Anyone who watched his show (or the debate coverage) knows exactly who he was voting for.

    There's absolutely no reason for anyone to skip voting, much less the guy who pops a vein in his forehead every weeknight railing against Republicans.

    OptimusZed on
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    kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I can't tell you about BillO, but Coulter votes. It was drama at the time, if lame drama.

    kildy on
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    citizen059citizen059 hello my name is citizen I'm from the InternetRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Oh geez, the View.

    My wife & mother-in-law based their entire decision on who to vote for this year on things they saw on that show. Holding a political discussion with either of them was completely impossible.

    El-oh-el @ Olbermann though.

    citizen059 on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    The other risk that you run in trying to claim universal objectivity is the possibility for false equivalencies. Not every piece of news about one side of the spectrum needs balanced out with the same type of piece about the other. Not every viewpoint is worthy of being compared to another on equal footing. Sometimes one side is obviously in the wrong, and trying to balance that with something from the other side is ludicrous. Too often, "objectivity" breaks down into "well, I said something bad about these guys, now I have to about the opposition."

    I think the only real way to be truly objective is to not give a shit. I could probably be extremely objective about some heated controversy amongst biologists regarding protein strands, because I don't really care one way or the other. Politics? I care too much. Even if I try really hard to not cherry-pick stories to report, I'm going to fail to an extent because my bias necessarily colors what I perceive as important. Even with something like video games I probably have too much bias to present a perfectly objective comparison of, say, the PS3 vs 360, even though I own both systems and really don't care too much. I still care a little, and so bye-bye objectivity.

    ElJeffe on
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    OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    The other risk that you run in trying to claim universal objectivity is the possibility for false equivalencies. Not every piece of news about one side of the spectrum needs balanced out with the same type of piece about the other. Not every viewpoint is worthy of being compared to another on equal footing. Sometimes one side is obviously in the wrong, and trying to balance that with something from the other side is ludicrous. Too often, "objectivity" breaks down into "well, I said something bad about these guys, now I have to about the opposition."

    I think the only real way to be truly objective is to not give a shit. I could probably be extremely objective about some heated controversy amongst biologists regarding protein strands, because I don't really care one way or the other. Politics? I care too much. Even if I try really hard to not cherry-pick stories to report, I'm going to fail to an extent because my bias necessarily colors what I perceive as important. Even with something like video games I probably have too much bias to present a perfectly objective comparison of, say, the PS3 vs 360, even though I own both systems and really don't care too much. I still care a little, and so bye-bye objectivity.
    That's a good point, but I don't think the creation of false equivalencies is the answer. Too often, news about politics breaks down into a tit-for-tat "A Dem did this, but let's talk about something this Rep did years ago to even out the report." To me it almost seems like objectivity (or at least some closer approximation) would be easier to realize if they just did the story on the story and didn't try to turn every piece into an equal time bash/praise session. Sometimes, news should just be news.

    OptimusZed on
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    RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    The Washington Post recently officially endorsed Obama.

    This actually disappoints me. Not in that they endorsed Obama, but that they endorsed anyone. In my opinion, having a journalistic source, especially one that's as respected as the Post, endorse a particular political candidate is in direct conflict with the ideal of objective journalism. I felt the same way earlier this year when the NY Times endorsed Clinton and McCain in the primaries. It's inappropriate for a journalistic source, especially those that are highly respected, to be openly endorsing political candidates.

    The editorial board members are not the same people as the journalists. There is a literal firewall between the two.

    When the editorial page endorses a candidate, it has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on the operation of the newsroom. To believe otherwise is crazy conspiracy talk. The two sections of the paper literally do not know what the other side is thinking or doing until it is actually published.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
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    Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Objectivity is impossible to achieve, and shouldn't even be a goal we're striving for. Endorsements are nice because it's an easy, straightforward way of knowing one of the motivators for your news source.

    Objectivity is also dumb because our news media is supposed to be the fourth estate. They're supposed to keep the government in check.

    Of course, they haven't done this in, well, ever, but if there's a way to stop them from being douchebags, it's to do away with the concept of objectivity. They should be suspicious as fuck about the government, not trying to be neutral with it.

    Mai-Kero on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    The other risk that you run in trying to claim universal objectivity is the possibility for false equivalencies. Not every piece of news about one side of the spectrum needs balanced out with the same type of piece about the other. Not every viewpoint is worthy of being compared to another on equal footing. Sometimes one side is obviously in the wrong, and trying to balance that with something from the other side is ludicrous. Too often, "objectivity" breaks down into "well, I said something bad about these guys, now I have to about the opposition."

    I think the only real way to be truly objective is to not give a shit. I could probably be extremely objective about some heated controversy amongst biologists regarding protein strands, because I don't really care one way or the other. Politics? I care too much. Even if I try really hard to not cherry-pick stories to report, I'm going to fail to an extent because my bias necessarily colors what I perceive as important. Even with something like video games I probably have too much bias to present a perfectly objective comparison of, say, the PS3 vs 360, even though I own both systems and really don't care too much. I still care a little, and so bye-bye objectivity.
    That's a good point, but I don't think the creation of false equivalencies is the answer. Too often, news about politics breaks down into a tit-for-tat "A Dem did this, but let's talk about something this Rep did years ago to even out the report." To me it almost seems like objectivity (or at least some closer approximation) would be easier to realize if they just did the story on the story and didn't try to turn every piece into an equal time bash/praise session. Sometimes, news should just be news.

    I think this still ties into what I was saying. If you have a vested interest in one side, it's hard to necessarily determine if such an equivalency is false or not. Maybe they are equivalent, and they just don't seem to be because you're biased. Or maybe they aren't equivalent, but they seem like they aren't because you're biased. Who can say? Best to just show both stories to be absolutely sure.

    I think a lot of it also boils down to the average journalist being genuinely ignorant on most matters they report on. To determine the validity of a story, you have to know what the hell you're talking about. If, for example, you let someone with no scientific background listen to a sane biologist and a creation scientist talk about evolution, they'll probably think each side has valid points. You have to already be fairly well versed in the science before you can realize that the latter is a fucking nutter. The same applies to almost every other field, and I bet it has a lot to do with the Equal Time doctrine in the MSM.

    ElJeffe on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 2008
    Mai-Kero wrote: »
    Objectivity is impossible to achieve, and shouldn't even be a goal we're striving for. Endorsements are nice because it's an easy, straightforward way of knowing one of the motivators for your news source.

    Objectivity is also dumb because our news media is supposed to be the fourth estate. They're supposed to keep the government in check.

    Sure, but what constitutes keeping them in check? What stories are outrageous and warrant mention, and what stories are no big deal and don't need to be reported? Objectivity helps determine what's news in the first place.

    ElJeffe on
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