Is objectivity a reasonable or desirable professional standard for journalists?

Last summer controversy erupted in newsrooms across the world over how to cover protests over racial injustice and government responses to them. In the US, these debates resulted in tense discussions and employee walk-outs at companies from the Pittsburgh Gazette to Facebook. At the New York Times many reporters strongly criticized James Bennet, the editorial page editor, after the Times published an essay (Links to an external site.) by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a firm Trump ally. In the essay, Cotton called for using military force to end the protests that erupted across the country after the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, an idea that Trump himself had publicly endorsed. The protests at the Times resulted in Bennet’s resignation. At the Times, as with most newspapers, the editorial page is separate from the news page and is run at the discretion of the publisher. Times controversy, as with others in the last few months, has raised several questions. One is whether journalism is supposed to present the “view from nowhere” or whether they should actively call out falsehood and bad faith. A second was whether news organizations should be neutral chroniclers of events or active participants in them. using the documents provided create an argument conveying that When covering a story, the journalist does not need to passively relay every argument in a debate. Objectivity cannot mean neutrality, especially when one side is either morally repugnant or dishonest. Objectivity as it has traditionally been used in the profession is not only an excuse for lazy reporting, but is itself a form of institutionalized bias that works against social justice.

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