Journalism Studies Basics

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Assignment 1 (25% of your final mark)
This will require you to write two answers, each approx. 750 words Define 2 key terms, demonstrating how they can be used to comment on past OR present journalistic practice

The English Oxford Dictionary (reference) defines objectivity as the quality of not being influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts (reference). In the context of journalism, this can refer to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and non-partisanship but is most often associated with neutrality (reference). Similarly to scientific objectivity, objective journalism aims to represent reality as accurately as possible. (reference pdf).

Throughout history.. philosophers have debated over whether true objectivity exists, .. There are a number of myths surrounding objectivity in the context of journalism (doesn’t exist, they are moral spectators, it stifles progressive politics, obscures truth, it is invoked for protection, it is used to build audiences, it renders media power invisible (reference pdf)

Is it really possible to be objective as a journalist though? Rupar (reference) sees objectivity as a ‘norm’ rather than a goal or state of journalism, and uses this view to look at the ideal of objectivity as a method of news gathering, an account of representing reality and an attitude towards the reality constructed (reference). As an ideal, objectivity helps to maintain the legitimacy and credibility of news media, as they mediate reality for the public (reference Rupar).

Many journalists, journalism scholars and news critics agree that absolute objectivity is impossible to achieve (reference), due to the number of decisions that must be made before a story or article becomes public. However, objectivity may also be considered an undesirable goal as “objective news” can limit access that the general public have to be a part of any debate surrounding a story, for if it is seen as ‘objective’ or neutral, then there are no other viewpoints from which to view the issue, because objectivity encompasses all of these views. (Raphael 2000, pp.130-137). (reference).

News media in New Zealand generally follow the cultural patterns and conventions of those in the USA and the UK (reference Scooped Intro week 2), and in the first half of the 19th century generally reflected the opinion of the publisher (reference Day (1990, Stephens’ (1997). Over time, Importance of objectivity in historaical journalism practices. Pages from google books and wikipedia here..

(reference) saw objectivity as a style, for example “objective reporting” is where emphasis is placed on the fact, while “interpretive reporting” focuses on the ‘story’. The Sydney Morning Herald primarily used the objective reporting style from the 1950s to 1970s, while transitioning to more interpretive reporting in the early 1980s. (reference) the article commented on the links between the two styles, and the motivations behind the purpose of journalism in relation to market value. (reference)

The respect that is shown for the journalism profession in New Zealand places journalists as neutral mediators of reality (reference) within the nation.

Historically, journalism as a profession emerged alongside the notion of objectivity. However, in the past decades, objectivity has been dismissed not only as an unattainable standard but also as an undesirable norm. Yet an analysis of the criticisms reveals that most scholars actually fail to define journalistic objectivity. This article tries to remedy this flaw and to suggest that journalistic objectivity is an evolving notion which can no longer be considered a synonym for neutrality or detachment. Objectivity is a standard that promotes truth, defined as a ‘correspondence, grounded in correctness, between thought and reality’ (Heidegger, 1943:1). Unlike alternative standards which are centered on personal moral values, objectivity conceives of journalism as a...
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