Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Should Journalism Abandon Neutrality?

DO YOU TRUST WHAT you see on television news?

Apparently most people do not. Fox News scored the highest in a recent poll, with 49 percent of the people questioned answering that they trust the right leaning network. Republicans trust Fox News at 74 percent, while only trusting the the other four major networks at 23 percent. Democrats only trust Fox News at 30 percent. Independents hated all five network news outlets in the study.

“A generation ago you would have expected Americans to place their trust in the most neutral and unbiased conveyors of news,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling which performed the study. “But the media landscape has really changed and now they’re turning more toward the outlets that tell them what they want to hear.”

Studies like this could have an impact on how news is covered and presented. If audiences are drawn to news outlets that serve their particular belief systems, should news outlets tailor their product to those audiences?

This would be a great question for Kevin Magee (right), a Temple alum and Fox News executive, who will visit class this semester.

What do you think? Should journalism abandon objectivity and the notion of neutrality? Or is there a purpose to journalists trying to remain objective?

19 comments:

Luis Crespo said...

Could you let me know when Mr. Magee is going to speak? I'd like to see that.

There's a really interesting video where someone interviews Mike Jerrick about this very topic. Of course, he used to work at Fox News and one of the things he says is that they never asked him to take any sides. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mz6Z5TF8do)

Joe said...

Do you even need to ask?! Isn't journalism objective by definition? Abandon objectivity, abandon all purpose. That's my feeling. I am definitely of the pool of independent voters that hate ALL the networks. Nothing scares me more than my roommate saying John Stewart is his source for news or my grandfather's reliance on Fox News for an opinion. These people are commentators, not journalists!

Craig said...

Ideally I would love to watch an objective news station. However, every station or journalist is going to have there own spin on something.

Sometimes I would prefer for the news to just own up when they are being biased and leaning towards a certain party.

Rachel Stumpo said...

I suppose I would be more put off by news stations lack of bipartisanship if they attempted to portray themselves as objective, which news channels like Fox do not totally try to do.

Most people are aware of the fact that Fox is right winged. I mean for gods sake, Glenn Beck is on Fox...enough said.

On the other hand, journalist have an obligation to be news-gathers, common-carriers, watch dogs, AND bipartisan...and as history shows us (think Spanish-American war and yellow journalism) journalists haven't always been faithful to these roles. Journalist aren't saints.

Gillian Francella said...

I like to watch objective news, but I would rather be someone who leans left or right with my reporting. I think that when you believe in certain political themes, you are more interested in news that keeps your beliefs in mind. That being said, MSNBC, CNN, FOX- should be objective; Comedy Central- not so much.

Geo said...

FYI: Kevin Magee will visit class on Thursday 2/4. If you have any friends interested in attending, they are welcome. Spread the word! This guys is a HUGE deal in broadcast journalism.

- George
(the teacher who thought all journalists were supposed to be saints).

Anonymous said...

Brittni Baldrich

People who watch the news should believe what they want. Some people are educated and others are not, those who are not will usually believe what they hear or see and not question it because they're brain doesnt function or even care to question things. Those who know, experience, or seen more will usually question what is "said". They would want more of a proven aspect.

Jess Lopez said...

I do not believe that anyone can be completely objective. As a journalist, I would try to achieve objectivity in my stories. The fact is that people like to listen to media outlets that will tell them what they want to hear. My advise to people that want to know a story free from biases is to read the same story from a couple different networks or newspapers. This allows the person to gain perspective on the story and allow them to make their own opinion.

Geo said...

But how should journalists handle this dilemma? Should they forgo objectivity altogether? Should they just come right out and take sides? Should they quit dancing around the issues and take a stance?

- George
(the teacher with a lot of questions)

Luis Crespo said...

Does every story have more than one side?

Connor Showalter said...

I think that broadcast journalists show bias to lure viewers and to attempt to show audiences that because they form their opinions on issues, they know more than the other networks. If it were a perfect world and journalists didn't have to worry about making a profit via advertisers than I think they would be able to be objective.

Nicole M Recek said...

People who are watching the news have there opinions as well as the people presenting them. We all have something to share, being a journalist you have the chance to expose your opinion publicly.

Connor Showalter said...

as a journalist you should never "expose your opinion publicly"..talk show hosts can share their opinions though

Michael Stoltzfus said...

Geo, you pose a tough question and I think ideally it'd be great if all news stations could be objective and only provide accurate facts. But thing is we can't possibly know if everything being said is fact or fabrication. It is a dilemma, indeed, but there are more forces at work other than good honest journalism. The people with power have their own agendas and our biggest problem will be deciphering what's real.

Perhaps journalists might as well pick a side, but they should still continue to present arguments for both sides...

Tim Deaner said...

This is a tough question, but I think with all the false news out there, report the truth. My example would Jets head coach Rex Ryan. He doesn't mask the truth, he tells it how it is. It might get him in trouble, but he told the truth. Why ruin your credibility? Tell the truth, and keep it real. Not many people in the world keep it real anymore and that hurts journalists.

Brian Okum said...

Ideally, things would be told as they happen - not glorified, not made to look OK when they aren't, not portrayed in any false light. I notice TV networks don't do so much reporting as they do sit back and act as a channel for authority voices to flow. What is even more annoying is when networks, as a friend in my journalism class put it "turn real events like what happen in Haiti into a publicity stunt." America owns a disgusting tool called the media that tells people what to believe.

Journalism just isn't journalism without the hard reality, the objectivity.

Parissa Zecher said...

I don't think that it's really possible to remain neutral on every subject reported by journalists. I think that on widely debated topics, it's better to steer clear of neutrality simply because so many people are going to have their own opinion and by giving your audience your own opinion backed up with good information, resources, etc. then you allow for your audience to ponder your view on the particular topic. It is good to make people think, especially if they are taking a completely different side than you are. No one says they have to agree with you and no one says the journalist's job is to force someone to believe what they are publishing but at the same time it gives the reader something to think about, an ability to do further research themselves, perhaps or see your side and maybe agree with some key elements you bring to the table. You never know, there are so many ways to look at things that again to reiterate, I do not think neutrality is always the best way to go.

-Parissa Zecher

Francisco Ovalle said...

we should have the option to decide what to hear and what not to, everybody has their opinion but in reality it is better having from where to choose, various options, not just the neutral and common things...

Sam Kelly said...

It seems to me if journalism abandons objectivity and the notion of neutrality then it abandons hope.

Hope that the audience will continue to trust them. Journalism needs to stick to neutrality or just like that we become bias. Fine line to walk!