By Marivir R. Montebon
It has always been an impassioned discussion among journalists – whether journalism could ever become objective. Since my university days, objectivity is quite a cut-throat matter which journalists are confronted with.
Objectivity is generally defined as ‘not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts, actual existence, or reality.’
In essence, therefore, objectivity rests on the unbiased account of what has truly happened. One could easily see this in reportage of natural disasters, fires, bank robberies, and other social circumstances.
In this sense, objective reporting has a degree of applicability.
But society is more complex than just its material truth. With the interplay of politics and culture inherent among reporters, the subject of the news, and the owners of media institutions, objective reporting becomes tricky and problematic. More often than not, the truth is angled or tweaked to the favor of who owns the information and to what purpose this could have helped him/her.
Today we see highly polarized media institutions in the US especially because it is election year, a classic example where politics plays a conscious part of.
Too polarized such that an ordinary reader or viewer of news, based on his or her own political or cultural orientation, chooses which media institution to listen to or watch. It is no longer simply about the objective reality.
Politics is so thick in the matters of both relevant and irrelevant issues, that the truth gets too muddled for the public to be able to go down to the bottom of it.
Unfortunately, the profession of journalism is not as precise as that of the doctor or the accountant. To save lives, the doctor must be able to correctly diagnose his patients. The accountant has to know the real numbers in the books of accounts in order to understand the precise financial condition of a business. The professional writer or commentator, when he opens his mouth or writes an article or editorial, do not necessarily help cure political or cultural malaise, much more lead the readers to understand how an ailing economy could recover.
It is in here that I express concern. The US is in the crossroad of highly crucial times, and if long-standing social issues are so effectively maneuvered by political machineries, including media institutions, having a common direction for economic and social recovery may all go down the drain.
I go back to the ethics that I had committed myself to since the beginning of my profession. Media practitioners are political and cultural agents, I just hope many would regard the conduct of their work as a matter of public interest as larger than any partisan political persuasion.
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