What is objectivity in journalism?

Objectivity is expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices or interpretations. Objectivity, as defined by the school of media ethics, means standing so far from the community that you see all events and all viewpoints as equally distant and important or unimportant for that matter. It is employed by giving equal weight to all viewpoints—or if not, giving all an interesting twists, within taste. The result is a presentation of facts in a true non-partisan manner, and then standing back to let the reader decide which view is true. By going about it this way, we are defining objectivity not by the way we go about gathering and interpreting the news, but by what we actually put in the paper. It can be measured out by allocating so many lines for this group, and so many lines for that group.

To be fair, any analysis should be evenly balanced. The critics get a lot to chew on when that is the definition of objectivity. One form of reaction is to say, “Objectivity is impossible!” No matter how we spread our resources, we’ll never get it right. We might as well be honest, and listen to our subjective inner voices, and write and report from a neutral point of view. Some journalists who think that way will surely rely on public journalism as excuse t paint with a biased brush. Of course it is impossible for a journalist to be completely objective because journalists are human and humans are subjective by nature. It is possible, however, for journalists to strive to be objective.

A journalist may not like but must understand the need to report about groups and organizations that have an impact on the community. Journalists should never mix personal feelings in their professional work. If the ideal of objective is hard to grasp, then perhaps better words are fair, impartial, neutral or balanced. It is the last concept of balance that is in practice each day for journalists. Each story a journalist writes must present the facts accurately and provide a balanced view of both sides of the issue. For example, if a journalist finds accurate information about the government official accepting bribes, the official must be given the opportunity to respond and explain the circumstances.

The sole aim of journalism should be service. The press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within. If this line of reasoning is correct, how many of journals in the world withstand the test? But who would stop these that are useless? And who should be the judge? The useful and useless must, like good and evil.