The real difference between news and features is that the former catches the reader’s attention while the latter keeps him reading. News is the rough draft of history, while features are merely features. Hard news is essentially bad news, while features are the first draft of history. What’s news to you is not necessarily news to me. Regardless, both types of news have their own merits. Whether you like the news or not, it is the first draft of history, and the real news is never good.
Objectivity in news reporting has been a longstanding ideal in journalism, but its definitions are far from uniform. Aristotle, for example, defined the mean as a desirable location between two extremes. Thus, journalists must find a balance between these two extremes. Journalists view finding that balance as a worthy goal, and objectivity in news reporting is a by-product of this goal. Here is a look at the history of the concept of objectivity.
The concept of objectivity in news has been studied by many scholars, from James Carville to Norman Finkelstein. It has been compared to the Swiss Army knife of journalism – the ability to stay unbiased and avoid biased stories. While objectivity is essential in news reporting, it should not be limited to the content of news stories. Editorials, for example, are closely related to opinion journalism. Other forms of news analysis and interpretation are also ambiguous, but may be considered objective. Some scholars, including McDonald (1971), have adopted a very broad concept of objectivity. They equate objectivity with investigative reporting and evaluations, and even to opinion pieces.
While the media explosion has caused confusion over the definition of objectivity, there are some ways to protect journalists from bias. One way journalists can keep their sources from being influenced by their own agendas is to quote them. They can even say “you said it yourself” if the source says it. However, these sources can still lie on purpose, or manipulate quotes. However, the goal of achieving objectivity in the news cannot be achieved if all journalists are biased.
Some journalists are passionate about fairness in the media, but there is no clear consensus on the question of what is fair. In general, a significant minority of people will always select ‘Don’t know’ or ‘It depends’ when asked about the fairness of news coverage. Those who pay less attention to the news are most likely to choose the ‘Don’t know’ response. Whether the news coverage is fair or not may depend on the audience’s values and background.
Generally, journalists need to have a sense of fairness in their reporting, and they should never be partial to one side or the other. When reporting on a controversial issue, journalists should include both sides of the story, and not present each side equally. While “he says/she says” stories can be entertaining, they’re less informative. Fair journalism requires journalists to call the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan if they are writing about a lynching.
The original intent of the fairness doctrine was to protect the freedom of speech of all Americans. It was a tool used by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of the FCC to enforce its rules but has not yet ruled on whether it has the obligation to do so. Fairness in news requires that stations actively seek out and report on issues of community importance. So how do we measure fairness in news?