Should Journalism Be Objective? Serial: Part 2 | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

Posted in Home Furnishings, Local journalism, Uncategorized on September 24th, 2019 by Mason Fletcher
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here’s an idea cereal shows us how journalism might not be objective but maybe that’s okay last time on idea channel we talked about objectivity the law and the people who practice it this I think is what cereal and even sometimes The Good Wife show us that though the law might have some objective moral basis it is still very much open to interpretation so objective sure but maybe only to a point objective but complexly so and maybe that’s something cereal shows us at the end of this video we’ll see what you had to say about last week’s video a video which you don’t need to watch in order to understand this one but it probably wouldn’t hurt especially if you don’t know much about the podcast cereal because today we’re gonna ask about the other side of cereals set up not the detectives council experts or suspect but its host journalist of Sarah Koenig and her team were they or was Sarah too involved in odd noms case does the cereal have some uh upheld responsibility to be disinterested did they transgress some set of journalistic ethics this has been a big criticism of caning from the start to at the beginning of the show is vocally Pro odd none at this point I’m gonna say flat-out that I don’t buy the motive for this murder at least not how the state explained it I just don’t see it as the show progresses her skepticism regarding the potentially lifelong inmates innocence herbs and flows but overall cereal never fully departs from a narrative that seems to be searching for ye bit of evidence to exonerate odd non of his conviction of his girlfriend Haman Lee’s murder in 1999 Kanaka said that this wasn’t her intention that she was aware she might potentially uncover something useful but that the goal of serial was never explicitly to free aDNA criticisms have continued regardless even after the finale the way Sarah treated Jay the fact that she didn’t speak with Kevin Urich the prosecutor in odd nons case a thing which she and the cereal team have responded to publicly and other various and sundry actions or inactions that raised the question of whether caning and her producers were really letting all the facts speak for themselves in other words being objective I’m not sure they were I’m also not sure that that’s problem but before we talk about why let’s talk for a second about journalistic objectivity in many Western countries but particularly in the United States objectivity is the cornerstone principle of journalism in a paper for journalism studies Quan Ramon Munoz Torres paraphrases David mindish who even suggests that without the concept of objectivity American journalism cannot be understood at all so let’s make sure we understand objectivity we covered the high-level concepts last week when we were talking about the law objectivity is a framework for existence and knowledge free from the knowers own biases and both of these are still very much at play in journalism as well but the concept of journalistic objectivity tends to add one more dimension that of balance often our understanding of journalistic objectivity assumes an almost ethical directive it’s viewed as unfair or deceptive if reporting doesn’t give equal time to all sides of a story or debate this expectation is so pervasive that even idea Channel is often chided for not showing both sides of the story luckily we’re not the news or aiming to be objective even a little I can say one side of an argument like it’s the truth and to move on with a totally clear conscience relatedly as immune Yas Torres points out this is all ostensibly in a service of the truth the goal of journalism is to provide insight and accountability where citizens laws and politics cannot or do not and so it goes that the pursuit of that insight or accountability should be neutral impartial fair balanced but what if the other side of a story is considered marginal at best or dangerous at worst the BBC for instance recently decided to stop giving equal airtime to those denying the effects of climate change it’s also arguable that objectivity is something of a goose that journalists are encouraged to chase as Glenn Greenwald puts it in no place to hide every news article is the product of all sorts of highly subjective cultural nationalistic and political assumptions here on ID channel I’ve said something similar in different terms that media always reflects the conditions of its production or to look at this another way our sense of journalistic objectivity is one built by applying some romantic even vaguely scientific concept of rational empiricism to reporting the news unfortunately in journalism and even in a science a perfectly objective basis is untenable there’s no foundation for gathering the facts which does not rely in some way on the subjective judgments of human beings none at all sorry but okay now we are briskly headed down a path towards the unconcluded semantic argument beginning with the question but what is truth anyway man glenn greenwald’s again can provide a pertinent detour the relevant distinction he writes is not between journalists who have opinions and those who have none a category which does not exist it’s between journalists who candidly reveal their opinions and those who conceal them pretending they have none Media critic and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has rendered this same sentiment much more succinctly transparency he said is the new objectivity for the longest time objectivity reigned supreme over journalistic practice but it’s throne is crumbling studies in the US and Europe have shown that practitioners see objectivity as an ideal to strive for but that there is just as much of a sense that it is an impossible ideal this I think is an industry-wide almost neurosis that cereal wears on its sleeve there are many things that you can say cereal did less than perfectly but I think to its credit I never felt like Sarah Koenig or her producers were any more or less sure or unsure about the story than they clearly expressed to hear a canings description of the process of digging through courts documents and evidence tracking people down talking to experts developing leads and testing them against the materials at her disposal alongside her various convictions beliefs skepticism and intentions I catch glimpses of a journalistic process which I think lets the facts and the reporter speak at the same time of course transparency is not a binary value but a scalar one cereals transparent knob might not have been cranked all the way to 11 but their efforts felt significant and honest but I don’t know maybe I’m just being naive maybe journalism does have some impossible objective ideal but its base aims fairness accountability investigation communication are no less inherently subjective meaning objective journalism like plastic glasses a small crowd or things that are pretty ugly can exist but only in the spite of what it first appears to be what do you guys think can and should journalism be objective were Sara and her team objective let us know in the comments and it would be objectively nice of you if you were to subscribe it is objectively very snowy in New York City right now let’s eat you guys had to say about objectivity cereal and the law as tends to be the case on idea Channel when there is a some cataclysmic weather event like there is in New York City right now you get to see the inside of my apartment a little bit more so that’s why you are not looking at the record wall or the idea channel set because I am stuck at home anyways it’s not gonna stop us from responding to comments but before we do office hours is the thing that we figured out February 7th at the IBM Pavilion in Midtown in Manhattan I’m gonna hang out for a couple hours there’s no set plan just come hang out chat with me talk with other idea channel viewers just have fun we’ll hang out come for 10 minutes come for a couple hours okay on to comments Erik viewless makes the really great point that whether or not the law is based on objective moral truths what we’re talking about here is what objectively happened and it shouldn’t factor in that people are biased in some way when they’re trying to figure out just what happened and that there is some objective truth to that and that might be true but I think you know you see especially in a serial that there’s no way to get to that objective truth without passing through the conduit of very subjective biased confused forgetful people and yeah I mean that’s right that is the whole tension here and the conversation that follows this comment is so good I highly recommend checking it out links to this comment and all the in the Yakuza who talks about michel foucault and the idea of objectivity as it is sort of imposed or or developed by institutions and and also sort of offers advice of the question of you know it might be more worthwhile to ask whether or not the idea of objectivity is important or worthwhile or good and this made me think of a passage that I have underlined in the Michele Foucault reader that because I’m home I could just pull off of my bookshelf and read it says the power of the norm as in normality appears through the disciplines right so these are the disciplines of these institutions is this the new law of modern society let us say rather that since the 18th century it has joined other powers the law the word and the text tradition imposing new delimitations on them and then a little bit further down says like surveillance and with it normalization becomes one of the great instruments of power at the end of the Classical Age and this is basically all about how the normalization of culture and behavior through the existence of institutions is effectively law which i think is a very important and great content ranking for this country ernest petty talks about how one of the things that you could say is attractive about the law is its sense of objectivity that there is this sense that it is not different for different people and that that could provide a sort of sense of justice or a a basis for justice but that there are certain situations where it becomes clear that maybe the law is different for different people and that and that those events and situations are incredibly important because they might inspire us in us an interest or a a sense that we can and should try to change the way things are and that maybe cereal factors into that in some way and I would say yes and yeah I agree Laurel teal brings up the idea of the social contract which I definitely should have mentioned by name it’s the idea that there is sort of a contract between all people in a society to behave in a certain way and talks about how that is maybe both expressive of and kind of upholding of the ideas that contribute to the existence of law but that also another thing worth considering is that our ideas about how these things should be objective probably say just as much about our culture and society as what happens when we attempt that objectivity as as the results that we get from it and finally and relatedly Sarah Wayne talks about how it is maybe the reaching for objectivity that is the most important thing that as of the idea of what it means to be human what it means to be a human around other humans changes and progresses and we uncover more understanding about it our idea of what is right what is objectively right will necessarily change and that this idea of objectivity in law is sort of like utopia that you know it it’s a nice idea to reach for you’re probably you’re never gonna get there but maybe it doesn’t hurt to try fair this week’s episode was brought to you by the hard work of objectively the best editing team in New York City we have a facebook an IRC and a subreddit links in the doobly Doo and the tweet of the week comes from TJ von P who let me know that cereal is not an NPR show which I should have known as someone who works in public media this is very embarrassing for me I will I will do penance ten Hail Therese and one hour later you [Music]


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