On the way home tonight I was listening to part of an NPR program called "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook. They spent the hour talking about how NPR felt compelled to fire Juan Williams, a news analyst for them, who had also worked as a contributor to Fox News (with whom he has been given a new three-year, two million dollar contract).
Williams, as you know, made some remarks about how nervous Muslims make him feel at airports and so on. He went on to suggest that people who don't want to talk about this are failing to face what he referred to as "reality," and so on and so forth.
We can talk about whether NPR did the right thing or not, if you like. I have no problem with that. But there is a bigger issue I want to get to....
On this program, "On Point," Ashbrook had on a woman who acts as the ombudsman (PR person) for NPR. She explained that this episode (with Williams making anti-Muslim remarks to Bill O'Reilly on Fox) was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." She explained that this episode was the culmination of an ongoing personnel problem with Williams. He had been spoken to and warned about his controversial remarks on Fox time and again, according to the ombudsman.
She gave the usual line about how journalists are supposed to keep their private opinion to themselves in the interest of "objectivity." You know the drill....
What I want to know is this: Are we, the news-consuming public-at-large, the citizenry, well served by this media ethos of relentless objectivity? Do we gain something? Lose something? Or does it even matter?
I just turned 42 and I have as of yet, to see media be objective about anything.
Do we gain something? Well, I guess from a technical aspect, being objective is in finding the truth or facts. Reporting from a subjective point of view, gives only half truth and distortion of facts. So, I would say that yes we would gain something.
Lose something? We cannot lose that which we never had.
Or does it even matter? I would say it matters, so many other problems can be addressed, instead of the mass media subjectively distributing half-truths and vague information so as to distort other people's actions.
Just my thoughts on it.
Good Day Cagsil
Thank you for being the first to join our discussion and Happy Birthday! Just a few of questions.
1) Has it been your finding that the media has never (in your experience) been objective, even while they assert objectivity? If so, what does this mean to you?
2) Do you believe that if the media could only be "objective" they would not feed the public the "half truth and distortion of facts" that they do?
3) If you're familiar with the story I alluded to, do you think Juan Williams, when he made those remarks about how Muslims at airports make him nervous, was being objective or not objective? And if he was not being objective, did he, therefore, deserve to be fired by NPR, in your opinion?
Interesting topic. When I was a Senior in high school, we had to be part of pro/con debates for our final projects. While doing this, I realized how you can twist any facts to support your viewpoint. Being subjective, being either pro or con a specific topic, I feel, is natural. We can't help how we feel.
I think we "gain" more facts if a newscaster, or the like, can provide details objectively. However, I actually like when they're human and can show a little bit of how they feel.
Just my thoughts.
Good Day KristenGrace
Welcome to the thread. Let me ask you this. If, as you say, [w]e can't help how we feel," (which I agree with) and "[h]owever, I actually like when they're human and can show a little bit of how they feel," (as do I) then is "objectivity" a virtue that SHOULD be a part of journalism?
I'm asking the question of your own personal philosophical sense of it.
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