Objectivity and Fairness in News
What is news? According to the Oxford Dictionary, news is the latest incident, event, or other information that has the potential to generate interest or entertainment. Gerald W. Johnson and William Stead both define news as something that has not previously been known to the layman. The British Journal defines news as “any event that is timely and of general interest to the public.”
Objectivity in news has been a topic of debate in the field of journalism. In general, objectivity refers to how a journalist handles news stories. It does not refer to the conditions that the journalist must meet while gathering news. The basic issue of objectivity is the primary relationship between a journalist and the facts he or she is reporting. Ultimately, this principle applies to both factual and interpreted reporting. The question then becomes: how do journalists achieve objectivity?
Objectivity in news started around the 1830s, as the antebellum Jacksonian democracy encouraged increased participation from ordinary citizens. The rise of the ‘penny paper’, or ‘penny’ papers, promoted the notion of objectivity. These newspapers were sold on newstands, supported by circulation-based advertising, and bought by enlarging masses of working class citizens. The notion of objectivity in news has a long and complicated history.
The definition of “objectivity” in the news media varies greatly, depending on the public’s value system. In America, liberal and democratic values are broadly held, which means that news media generally engage in current events. While partisan leanings may not affect the purpose of a publication, they do boost its overall journalistic ecosystem. For example, while the New York Times is critical of President Trump, Fox News tends to avoid conservative politicians.
While you may have heard of the term fairness before, what does it mean exactly? Fairness in news is a concept that people who care about the world around them can understand. Fairness is based on two key principles, objectivity and impartiality. When reporting news, an impartial reporter will try to avoid inserting their personal opinions into the story. The same principle applies to news organizations. If a news organization wants to stay impartial, it should not use its own bias to justify the news it reports.
Some news organisations are already working to address this problem, but the biggest divides still lie in coverage of politics. While many news organisations are attempting to stay impartial while maintaining a broad audience, political coverage will remain the hardest to improve. For those who do pay attention to the news, this may seem like a contradiction, but it is a widely held assumption. Moreover, it has been documented that coverage of racial minorities and other groups is biased.
One way to encourage fairness in news is to create an award like the Pulitzer Prize. Each year, a prize of $10,000 is awarded to a journalist or news organization who can demonstrate a commitment to reporting the truth in a fair manner. A second and third place prize of $1,000 each is also awarded. A number of other organizations support the Taylor Award. They recognize the importance of fairness in news. And they want to give back by rewarding the journalists who have made a difference in the world.