Worshipping at the alter of the false God of Objectivity: the current state of news in America.

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by PRENNTACULAR, Nov 16, 2010.

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  1. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    I'd be interested to have a discussion about the place that objectivity has in news reporting. What are your opinions?

    Recently Ted Koppel wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, discussing his opinion that "real news" is dead, and people like Bill O'Riely and Keith Olbermann have killed it with their propensity towards sensationalism and biased reporting.

    Olbermann and O'Riely have responded, saying that no reporting is objective, and transparency is the standard to which we should measure reporting, not an impossible or mythical standard of objectivity.

    What do you think? Should all news be objective news? Is that possible? Or is Olbermann right? Where do you get your news? Why?
  2. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    News should be objective, or as Sargent Friday was fond of saying, "Just the facts." In other words, no editorializing--that is for the editorial page. If one is going to insert his/her opinions into a news story, they should state that up front.

    Having been trained as a journalist, that is my opinion.
  3. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    Is that really possible though? Don't you have a bias in choosing which stories you're going to report and which you won't? Or which words you'll use to report those stories? Wouldn't it just be better to be transparent about where you stand, so people can take your bias into account when looking at the stories?
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It may be that television political news has simply capitulated to the way the human mind works:

    How facts backfire

    Misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions... and the very people who most need to correct them will be least likely to do so.


    What's worse, in a sort of reversal of the Dunning-Kruger effect, politically sophisticated thinkers were even less open to new information than less sophisticated types. These people may be factually right about 90 percent of things, but their confidence makes it nearly impossible to correct the 10 percent on which they?re totally wrong.

    The long and the short of it is that presenting objective facts in a media setting is likely to be a complete waste of time.
  5. darth-calvin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2002
    star 1
    I wouldn't say a waste of time. What that study tells me is that they targeted people who already have a strong political ideology and that they stay willfully misinformed. That is no surprise.

    I would guess that a large number of people actually want to learn something from the news, but they don't know what sources to trust anymore.

    I don't see how allowing misinformation to continue can be a good thing. People need to be taught how to find objective sources; not be written off as people that will never learn.
  6. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    The news should be unbiased, The BBC's charter states that it is meant to be so in its reporting. Choosing what stories to run in what order is different to how those stories are reported.

    I've been told there is a lot of strong right-wing media in America, which of course would be anti-Obama being he is from a left-wing party. This sort of thing saddens me, newspapers and news shows should report what the facts are, not just the negatives or positives depending on the reaction they want people to have.

    The Daily Mail over here is a known scare-mongering paper that exaggerates stories or misinteprets information. According to them the nation is descending into anarchy and there are too many immigrants, that kind of thing.
  7. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Oh the daily mail... such a comedy staple.

    Honestly, when was news unbiased, exactly? I mean, I think it was fairly biased back when "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war" happened with Hearst.
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    People are only immune to a presentation of facts if the integrity of their belief system is at stake. It's the political reporting where that's the biggest problem.

    But people forget about the other kinds of biases in news that don't get talked about much: the fact that news is financed by corporate advertising and the interlocking boards of directors between the media corporations and the corporations that advertise on that media. To me that's the most disconcerting kind of bias. It implies an insidious pro consumerist stance underlying the news, a diminished likelihood that corporate wrongdoing will be diligently investigated and reported.
  9. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Well then the problem isn't with the facts, the problem is a culture that encourages people to adhere to ideology while discrediting countermanding facts as the product of opposing partisans. You don't need to accept facts if you can slander the more or less reputable figures behind those facts with the "biased!" label.
  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The news should be unbiased, The BBC's charter states that it is meant to be so in its reporting. Choosing what stories to run in what order is different to how those stories are reported.

    Of course, until the BBC General Director, Mark Thompson, himself admitted on Newsnight that the BBC had a massive bias that they're working on, but which could probably never be overcome... That's not any worse than any other new organization, but it's just funny when people say "oh, so and so has a charter to remain unbiased." I mean, Fox New's motto is "fair and balanced," but a charter, or mission statement, or motto isn't a substitute for a business that is based on interpretation by its nature.

    I've been told there is a lot of strong right-wing media in America, which of course would be anti-Obama being he is from a left-wing party. This sort of thing saddens me, newspapers and news shows should report what the facts are, not just the negatives or positives depending on the reaction they want people to have.

    And that's just silly. Instead of simply being told something, it's probably better to go find out that the media in the US is quite diverse and falls across multiple categories.
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    What I would do is promote a wider cultural understanding of all the cognitive biases and perceptual flaws that make our reasoning so flawed. Teach people to recognize and understand cognitive biases and teach techniques for contending with them. Quix's posts about having to explain to his students for example the significance of actually knowing what was contained in the health care bill before discussing its merits were instructive about the scope of the problem.

    Teach people the difference between seeking continual reinforcement for a strong liberal or conservative set of beliefs vs. actually being informed about subjects relevant to our nation's political discourse.
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That idea certainly seems familiar Jabba...most certainly familiar....
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The Patriot Act is another good example. You were right to ask people to examine the bill before labeling it a draconian step toward a fascist police state.

    The thing is, we can demand that from reporters, but if they don't deliver, it's pretty easy in the internet age to do it yourself.

    On the other hand, it's a lot like getting financial advice for your investments. Investment advisers always like to say there is no substitute for taking the time to understand the companies you're investing in, to do the research, to be a sophisticated investor. But realistically, it's hard to find the time, to look at every fund or equity closely. That's why we hire CFAs to help.

    Journalists are supposed to be like CFAs. They do the due diligence for us and summarize what we need to know about things we don't have the time to become experts about by ourselves. It's not the opinions and political bias that bothers me as much as the failure to show the underlying work. I don't care what the journalist believes, just how she reached her conclusion. Show the work.

    That's the reason I'm such a fan of fivethirtyeight and Nate Silver. He's constantly discussing the process, his sources, the alternatives to his methodology, where he might be wrong. People who think that way and write about it are rare gems on the internet, which as you know I'm fond of describing as "the cradle of the world's misinformation."
  14. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    Objectivity apparently means "center of Washington", which, as we all know means "Help the rich and give those Seriously Our Base some token things like banning gay marriage." "Center of America" is farther to the left, though perhaps not on social issues. It just happens that our politicians, media, and clergy have slowly and deliberately eroded working-class identity.

    And of course, as long as Fox News exists, objectivity will be defined as "right of fascism".
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