End of Objectivity: News Leaders Demand Change

    Earlier we talked about the movement in journalism schools to eliminate the principles of objectivity in journalism. Advocacy journalism is the new media touchstone, even as polls show that trust in the media is collapsing. Now, former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. and former CBS News chairman Andrew Heyward have released the results of their interviews with more than 75 media leaders and concluded that objectivity is now viewed as reactionary and even harmful. Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, put it clearly: “Objectivity must go.”

    Russian Collusion

    Notably, while Bob Woodword and others have finally admitted that the “Russian collusion” coverage lacked objectivity and resulted in fake news, the media is pushing even harder against objectivity as a core value in journalism.

    We discussed the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. Writers, editors, commentators and academics have embraced the growing calls for censorship and control of language, including President-elect Joe Biden and his top advisers. This movement includes academics who reject the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open sides.

    Columbia’s doyen of journalism and New Yorker writer Steve Coll decried how the First Amendment right to free speech has been “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor Ted Glasser insisted that journalism needed to “break free from this notion of objectivity in order to develop a sense of social justice.” He dismissed the notion that journalism is based on objectivity and said he sees “journalists as activists because journalism at its best – and indeed history at its best – is all about morality.” Therefore, “journalists must be overt and sincere advocates of social justice, and it is difficult to do so under the constraints of objectivity”.

    Lauren Wolfe, the freelance editor fired by the New York Times, not only publicly defended her tweet in favor of Biden, but published an article entitled “I am a biased reporter and I am fine with it”.

    Former New York Times Writer

    Former New York Times writer (and now Howard University journalism professor) Nikole Hannah-Jones is a leading voice in partisan journalism. Indeed, Hannah-Jones declared that “all journalism is activism”. Her Project 1619 has been contested as deeply flawed and she has a long track record as a reporter of bigotry, controversial positions on the riots and promoting conspiracy theories. Hannah-Jones would later help lead the Times’ effort to get rid of an editor and apologize for publishing an article by Senator Tom Cotten that was deemed inaccurate and inflammatory.

    Polls show that trust in the media is at an all-time low, with less than 20% of citizens trusting television or print media. However, journalists and academics continue to destroy the fundamental principles that underpin journalism and ultimately the role of a free press in our society. In particular, writers who have been repeatedly accused of false or misleading columns are some of the biggest advocates of abandoning objectivity in journalism.

    Now even the leaders of information companies are joining this self-destructive movement. These are not columnists or cable hosts who habitually share opinions. We are talking about real journalists, the people you rely on to report the news.

    To say that “objectivity must go” is, of course, liberating. One can dispense with the demands for neutrality and balance. You can cater to your “base” such as columnists and opinion makers. Sharing the opposing viewpoint is now dismissed as “bothsidesism.” Done. There is no need to give credence to opposing viewpoints. It is a familiar reality for those working in higher education, who have become increasingly intolerant of opposing or dissenting views.

    Once all journalists shared a common “identity” of professionals able to separate their prejudices and values from the news. Now, objectivity is virtually synonymous with bias. Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor of the Associated Press, said: ‘It is objective by what standard? …That standard appears to be white, educated and quite wealthy.”

    Organizations like NPR are rapidly blurring the lines between journalists and activists. NPR has announced that reporters can participate in activities that support “the freedom and dignity of human beings” on social media and in real life. Downie echoes these views and says: “What we found convinced us that truth-seeking media must go beyond the meaning of ‘objectivity’ to produce more reliable news.”

    Really? Will being less objective make the news more reliable? It seems like it hasn’t worked out for years, but Downie and others are doubling up as bad gamblers in Vegas.

    In fact, the entire “Let’s Go Brandon” chant is as much a criticism of the media as it is of President Biden.

    If there is little difference between mainstream and alternative media, audiences will continue to move away from the former. The MSM has the most to lose from this movement, but as individual publishers, it remains popular to give in to supporters in their ranks. That’s what The New York Times did when it dumped its own editors to cater to the crowd. As the media struggles to survive, these leaders are feverishly sawing off the branch of the tree they are sitting on.

    This article is originally published on

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