Monday, November 7, 2011

Journalism as Ideologue

Once again, we learned that while journalists try to be completely removed and objective they still have an obligation to the citizen and thus cannot be completely objective. A paradox, it seems. But not really – journalists have an obligation to tell the truth and also to be a watchdog on the government. They have to have ideals. Also, journalists are human, and they belong to cultures. They can’t avoid certain values, like Gans’s Enduring Values. Also, journalists are known to be slightly more liberal than the general population, part of what contributes to media bias.

The most important thing, I think, when a reporter struggles with not being objective is that the reporter remembers he or she has a loyalty to the citizen. Watchdog journalism prevents the government or larger corporations from putting themselves above the law. This is usually an excellent thing journalists do for the public, but there can be negative consequences if sensitive material is reported. When I learned this I immediately thought of a popular and funny example of what can happen when too much information is shared through media – go to about 4 minutes in on this link – but it be very serious. Watchdog journalism that releases information that can endanger citizens is not really grounded in loyalty to the citizen.

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