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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Of course, there is no such thing as pure objectivity. However, that does not mean objectivity should not be a goal. It very much should be. You shouldn't call someone a "noob" in a news story, even if he is a noob.

    Practically speaking, objectivity helps the reporter do a better job. The link is broken, but this weekend George Will detailed [go.com] how a single reporter for the New York times, for many years, has been writing the same story over and over again, that "despite" a drop in crime, the prison popula
    • Please continue to argue with yourself, Pudge. You're doing a bang up job!

      I want the government to foster intelligent discourse. I'm not a laywer, I have no idea what the Consitution means legally (I understand the words, but I don't understand law). I won't hold the Consitution in higher regard than Thomas "Every generation needs a revolution" Jefferson. I do know what sort of society I want to live in and the sort of activities I want my government sponsoring (I think my blog gives some idea what pr

      • by pudge (1) on 2003.08.05 19:28 (#22809) Homepage Journal
        I want the government to foster intelligent discourse.

        I want no such thing. That requires my money, and if it is federally funded, it requires violating the Constitution.

        I don't think objectivity in the professional media is possible and perhaps the pursuit of this illusion is worse than admitting it doesn't exist.

        It's necessary, if you want to inform people rather than attempt to sway them. If you think Fox News is right about how news should be reported -- starting from a philosophy and shoehorning the news to fit it -- then yeah, objectivity has no place in the news media. I think that's the wrong direction.

        Given that, I expect reasonable reporting, that is reporting facts that have been checked with some deligence.

        But as you pointed out, the choosing of facts is highly subjective. The real motto of journalism is not "objectivity," which may blur the issue: it is "fair, complete, and accurate." You focus there on accuracy, which is important; but "fair," and to a lesser degree "complete," is where "objectivity" comes in.

        You can't be entirely objective, but you can make a conscious effort to be fair and complete and accurate. To call someone "anti-abortion" and someone else "pro-choice," when you know the former person would prefer to be called "pro-life," is not being fair. Saying 12 people were killed last year because of a new seat belt design, but neglecting to say how many people were potentially saved, is not being fair.

        It seems to me the hand-wringing you recalled from TDS over "objectivity" is sorta like how some people talk about "evolution": we evolved from children into adults! So of COURSE there is evolution! But that narrow focus on the definition of the word misses the point of its meaning in the context.

        Note also that of the top TV journalists, you would be hard-pressed to come to any conclusions about their political affiliations. They do their best to be fair to all points of view, to be objective. Objectivity exists, and it is a good thing. Not pure objectivity, as we are subjective beings, who can only possibly see things through our whatever-colored glasses. But the ability to see things through different glasses is a valuable one, if you wish to inform people, rather than get them to agree with you.

        On a tangent, the correlation between crime and punishment is tenuous.

        I was not making the claim that increased prison population caused the decrease in crime. I was making the claim that the NYT author didn't even consider that possibility.