JOURNALISTIC PERSUASION An essay on journalism

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One might define journalism as the act of putting into writing the happenings in the world at large. Events occur in the world and are relayed back to the world by reporters. Reporters are named such due to their effort to objectively report the facts, and objectivity is the key. To remain completely impassive, to transmit occurrences in the world back to the world unaltered and exactly as they were, is the main goal of journalism. In fact, this goal is so central to journalism that one might call it the journalistic ideal.

As with all ideals, however, this ideal is difficult to attain. Take the example of the sentence, "The Berlin Wall fell in 1989." This sentence appears to be fairly objective; the fact as stated cannot easily be argued and can be verified by a great many sources. However, the sentence may be stated in a different way: "The Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989." What these two sentences say is basically the same, but the feelings portrayed by each are different. Because there is no way to decide which feeling is the correct and accurate representation of the world, neither sentence can be viewed as completely objective; the writing of either one required subjective decision. In reporting, the very act of choosing out of infinite possibilities what words to utilize when describing a situation is very subjective. And this is before the numerous subtleties of reporting are included. How much attention in an article should be given to one aspect of an issue and how much should be given to another? What involved persons are to be quoted? What quotes from these persons are to be used? What happens when we try to relate how or why the Berlin Wall was taken down? Clearly, subjectivity cannot be escaped. The journalist's opinions, no matter what precautions are taken, will unavoidably seep into the article. And, because they are there, inevitably, those opinions will affect the reader. The reader will be persuaded or dissuaded in one direction or another. Thus,

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