The limits of objective reporting
The aim of this study is to scrutinize the assumption that objective reporting is good reporting, is ethical reporting. I do this by reflecting on different dimensions that are associated with the concept of objectivity: (1) accuracy; (2) truthfulness; (3) fairness and balance, and (4) moral neutrality. It is asserted that in many cases journalists are not objective in their reporting either because they consciously prefer not to be or because they are being manipulated by their sources. I close by asserting that the values of not harming others and respecting others should play a prominent part in the considerations of journalists. These are basic ethical standards that sometimes require normative reporting. Consequently, morally neutral coverage of hate speech and racism is a bad idea. It is a false and wrong conception. Subjectivity is preferable to objectivity when the media cover illiberal and anti-democratic phenomena.
Keywords: accuracy, balance, fairness, hate speech, moral neutrality, objectivity, racism, terror, truthfulness
Published online: 26 May 2008
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