In its opening paragraph, the eye-opening “Beyond Objectivity Report” states it was produced to help news organizations because public trust in journalism has “eroded” over the years. It then ironically insists there is a new direction to go.
“We provide a fresh vision for how to replace outmoded ‘objectivity’ with a more relevant articulation of journalistic standards,” the journalism report states.
It then goes on and on for 54 pages describing how 21st century journalism has evolved into a new environment where, for example, the “lived experience” of a black or a Hispanic reporter can be, and should be, reflected in news coverage.
“Objectivity has got to go,” Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor-in-chief at The San Francisco Chronicle, says.
The report compiles the opinions of 75 journalists who were interviewed by journalism veterans Leonard Downie, Jr., a former executive editor for The Washington Post and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward.
Nicolas Fondacaro of the Media Research Center says the news industry is proudly announcing it has turned its back on objective news coverage.
“I think they're saying the quiet part out loud,” he tells AFN. “And they're now openly admitting and advocating for what they've been doing all along, which is just bias now is the gold standard.”
Much of the report is back-patting examples of diversity. In just two examples, from the Tampa Bay Times and CBS News, a “diversity committee” was formed at the Times and CBS established what it calls a “Race and Culture Unit” in the newsroom.
Elsewhere in the report, a USA Today executive describes a newsroom with daily “brainstorming sessions” to discuss the news coverage. To encourage discussion, the editors depend on their “affinity groups.” That means black reporters are asked about racial issues and homosexual and lesbians share their views on news stories about transgenders.
At one point, Downie Jr. appears to explain the reasoning behind the biased news coverage. Reporters who are minorities, and reporters who are “LGBTQ,” he writes, feel that reporting objectively “negates their own identity, life experiences, and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work.”
The report also quotes some professionals who insist their news organization can be fair and objective.
“You can’t be an activist and be a Times journalist at the same time,” said Joseph Kahn, who is executive editor at the famously left-wing and biased New York Times.
“How can these media organizations decry and say they want to fight misinformation and disinformation," Fondacaro asks, "if they themselves can't admit that there is an objective, definitive truth?”