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The discussion about objectivity

Originally, this was a Twitter thread. I copied it here for safe-keeping.

I struggle to figure out where exactly journalists disagree about “objectivity.” A lot of the discussion seems to argue about the word, not the practice.

  1. Most journalists don’t want to get rid of a method of work that balances fairness, context and truth. It seems like we generally agree?
  2. We probably also agree that “objectivity” is a social construct which changes over time. Is that even a controversial statement?
  3. And if the practice is defined by the community, then the community and especially community leaders have a hand in defining or redefining objectivity.
  4. So then the composition of the journalism community, and especially the community’s leaders over the past 100 years, must have had a significant influence over the current definition and practice of objectivity.
  5. Given that group was/is often white and male, it seems the practice would by definition align with their experiences and perspectives.
  6. And given the country is more diverse than it was 100 years ago, and newsrooms are at least somewhat more so, one would expect the discussion to admit and include more voices.
  7. Meaning, if we did originally define objectivity together and we continue to update our understanding and practice of it, the only question now is who gets a voice in the discussion.

Maybe everyone ends up agreeing the system is perfect and no change to definition or practice is needed. (Probably not.) But a more inclusive discussion is called for and can’t be rejected as a violation of prior norms.

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