Objectivity is Overrated

Grad school classes resume next week.  As I somewhat reluctantly prepare for class, (I’m not ready for winter break to end), I’ve paused to reflect on what I learned last semester.

– crickets chirping –

Just kidding.  I learned quite a bit, especially in last semester’s “Online Journalism” class.  My professor for the class was one of the toughest graders in the communications program.  She challenged us, and I believe my writing has improved as a direct result of the assignments and the in-class discussions.

Surprisingly, objectivity was not a big focus of discussion during the class. It was a topic that I dreaded at the beginning of the semester.  I was concerned that I would not be able to write “objectively,” at least from a journalistic perspective.

Turns out, my professor didn’t believe that anybody could be truly objective.  Instead, she encouraged a focus on fairness, (tough to define), and accuracy.  I call that a breath of fresh air.

That didn’t mean that we didn’t have our differences in opinion.  We frequently disagreed, in good-natured but intense discussions, over the role of blogging in the world of online journalism.

One of our texts presented a utopian view of journalism, a world where journalists are the most important aspect of the First Amendment and the purveyors of truth in society.  It’s pie-in-the-sky and unrealistic.

Just look at the coverage of the Arizona shooting last Saturday.  Multiple media outlets supposedly “confirmed” that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died in the shooting.  Thankfully, those reports were inaccurate.

From my perspective, I recognize that blogging is not perfect either.  But I also think most bloggers, (certainly this one), don’t view themselves as journalists.  Yes, bloggers express intense opinions.  Yes, bloggers insert themselves into the story.  But at the same time, I have yet to see an ideal journalistic world come to fruition.

Whether it is blogging or traditional journalism… a utopian environment does not exist.  I’ll take both with a grain of salt.

This semester I’ll be taking “Media Ethics” and “History of Journalism” at The College of Saint Rose.  I suspect that we’ll see some very familiar topics of discussion.  I look forward to it.

For the sake of transparency, let me assure my readers, you won’t find objectivity or “true journalism” here.  I’ll do my best to be accurate, maybe even fair.  But I’ll be biased.

I welcome your bias to the discussion.

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