Published by Jane Devin on 10 Feb 2008 at 12:27 pm
I miss the days of objective, or even semi-objective, journalism. More than that, I resent its absence in 2008, as our scarred and embattled country faces its most important election in
I have never condoned the practice of newspaper editorial boards endorsing a candidate. Political favoritism should not, in my opinion, be part of any endeavor that claims to subscribe to the ethics of professional journalism.
The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. - Preamble of the Ethics Code of the American Society of Professional Journalists.
It is not fair to the public when a newspaper, or other mainstream news source, under the guise of journalism, endorses a political candidate. It’s a peddling of influence, which trades on the trust and readership of subscribers, who typically rely on journalism to inform and educate them with facts — not opinion.
The media’s overwhelming support for Barack Obama has not only been apparent, but slavish. Headlines from sources as diverse as the Associated Press to NPR have practically screamed ultimate victory where none yet exists. Newspapers from all across the country are slanting their headlines towards “the underdog” and “the rock star of politics” — making liberal comparisons to a revered John F. Kennedy — while burying the facts of the delegate count, which currently favors Hillary Clinton.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
(From the ethics code of the American Society of Professional Journalists).
When a certain bent by a news organization is clear and expected, such as the Huffington Post’s lean towards the left, or the right-wing slant of Fox News, the effect of biased reporting is not as devastating. Publications and broadcasts that cater to a niche market are unlikely to sway people either on the opposite side of the political spectrum, or in the moderate middle.
However, mainstream news does have the power and influence to sway moderate and undecided public opinion, and this is apparent in polls taken during and after major media blitzes. When mainstream media gears up their political machine, and promotes one candidate as a front-runner — even when not supported by the present, factual evidence — a substantial number in the public show a propensity to believe that other candidates, perhaps their candidate of choice, are somehow out of the running.
The loss of objective reporting during political seasons is unconscionable to me, and I can only hope that there are enough voters who see beyond the smoke and mirrors of skewed coverage and journalistic favoritism to vote their true conscience — and not be influenced by the mainstream media’s obvious and well-crafted popularity contest.