(Headline USA) Major media outlets are moving away from objectivity in their reporting, claiming an unbiased account of the facts is no longer tenable with many issues of the day.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of the Post, and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward interviewed more than 75 newsroom leaders to ask whether journalists should stick to being objective or try instead to push a specific narrative. Almost all of the media leaders argued journalists should be able to include their own beliefs and opinions in their reporting.
“Objectivity has got to go,” said Emilio Garcia–Ruiz, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor of the Associated Press, agreed.
“It’s objective by whose standard? … That standard seems to be White, educated, and fairly wealthy,” she said.
New York Times editor Joseph Kahn said journalists should stop trying to use “neutral language,” especially if there is undisputed evidence of racism.
Downie argued that “journalistic objectivity” seems to much of the media to be a “distortion of reality.”
“They point out that the standard was dictated over decades by male editors in predominantly White newsrooms and reinforced their own view of the world,” he wrote.
“They believe that pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading ‘bothsidesism’ in covering stories about race, the treatment of women, LGBTQ+ rights, income inequality, climate change and many other subjects,” he added. “And, in today’s diversifying newsrooms, they feel it negates many of their own identities, life experiences and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work.”
Surprisingly, the only media leader who seemed to reject this new standard is the Post’s current executive editor, Sally Buzbee.
“There is some confusion about the value of good reporting versus point of view,” she said. “We stress the value of reporting” and “what you are able to dig up—so you (the reader) can make up your own mind.”
The bold effort to shake up journalism comes as many major outlets face serious declines in viewership and readership.
An October 2022 Gallup poll indicated that for the first time ever since the polling began, more Americans (38%) had no confidence at all in the media than those who said they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence (34%).
Some suggest the problem may be that the media already has a surfeit of bias and haphazard reporting, which has been notably amplified since the 2016 election of former President Donald Trump.