Journalism & Objectivity: fact or fart!

LOL! Even fine girls and 'Modellas' fart

When last did you fart?

I thought as much- a few minutes ago in the solitude of your room 😛  left-right-no one, annnnnd BOOOM! “rocket explosion”. Don’t blush… max 5 mins (depending on how much concentrated it is), it will fade away and life will return to normal.

That’s gross, I agree, but that is Reality. Is the News on the other hand real?. When you read news reports and watch CNN so hard you can predict the next line, do you really think reality is being brought to your T.V set and heavy-weight newspaper, or it is just another story?

I mentioned in a previous post, Return of the Prodigal Blogger that I will be talking about the content of my Masters thesis. We’ll take them in mini-bits and at the end, wrap it all into one big idea.

In the course of my research, I found many fellow academics strongly claim that the News is not an objective representation of reality, but it is constructed, framed and shaped by the journalist.

Gaye Tuchman - one of my favourite scholars

Before we go too far, objectivity is the idea that the journalist has excluded himself, his emotions, beliefs and whatever convictions he may carry from the news story when writing. Also, objectivity in news reporting stands for the idea that even the owner of the news house does not influence what gets published or aired on that medium. The motto of objectivity is, “the news is a direct depiction of the world, no tints or colouration – but a clear and raw picture of reality.”

A favourite scholar of mine, Gaye Tuchman totally disagreed. She said, the act of making news is the act of constructing a reality, rather than a picture of reality. And, to call  news a story (like other story-stories) is not exactly to makes the news feel less than what it is, but to alert our thinking and understand that the news like all public documents, “is a constructed reality possessing it’s own internal validity.”

I found this quite interesting. And I also found out that Gaye was quite modest in her assertion. There were scholars who were a lot more radical. I will just go ahead and drop some quotes at the bottom:

Vasterman:news is not out there, journalists do not report news, they produce news. They construct it, they construct facts, they construct statements and they construct a context in which these facts make sense

McNair: No matter how ‘live’ the news is, regardless of how raw and visceral the account of events being brought into our living rooms appears to be,  it is still a mediated version of reality…

Now the one that really cracked me up was by Herbert. He said, sometimes, news papers decide the angle, headline and tone before the facts are gathered. The global reporter’s job is often to make the facts fit the headline.

To decide the tone and headline before the facts are gathered is simply tieing objectivity to a stake and burning it like the witches of old (so says Hollywood movies).

Anyway I got chatting with a friend of mine who is a top-notch journalist, and who will slaughter me if I disclose his/her identity. Yes, it is that bad I can’t even disclose his gender. Opps! His! LOL!

I got chatting with him about this and he said, “I think that calling the news a construction would be taking a lot away from it. Such a description would make the news appear like fiction. Reporters do not construct facts, the facts already exist, and the reporters compile them. It is obvious that the stories have to be put in context. How else would the diverse audience understand?”

I then thought… if the stories are being put into context, then perhaps ‘objective’ is not the right word to describe news-stories. Maybe we need a new ideal for this new age. Share your thoughts with me.

Journos in Action!


…. to be continued

p.s. if you are interested in the references, please send an email to


6 thoughts on “Journalism & Objectivity: fact or fart!

  1. A. Jones says:

    It’s completely true that the news gets subjected to media scrutiny and mutiny, all the same, I would not completely agree with McNair, “saying no natter how ‘live’…” subjects this conditions to outright and complete alteration of the truth at every instance of a news. This is not always the case, hence it’s no longer ‘live’ but ‘delayed’, giving exception to cases where the government or military would be implicated.

  2. Elnur Kuliev says:

    totally agree…whenever I switch to CNN World Report I arleady know that they will be item from Afghanistan, even when there is nottin newsworthy…needless to say that regardless how much it is presented as domestic issue news there will be always be American angle

  3. Kunle Jinadu says:

    Ok. nice one.

    News = story, non-fiction.

    “She said, the act of making news is the act of constructing a reality, rather than a picture of reality”. I totally disagree with Gay. I guess academics are always focused on the ideal forgetting the reality and this is not limited to journalism.

    My understanding is News / TV / Radio houses are owned and run by humans. Humans are naturally subjective. In America, you’ve got TV houses loyal to the democrats or Republican. That’s probably because of where the loyalty of the owners lie – human factor.

    In Nigeria, its not different too!

    So really, the News will never give me exact information. They report the facts alright … but in different ways. What I get is subject to someones alienations, thoughts, and even creativity.

    Basically for me an argument of the ideal vs reality

  4. Kunle Jinadu says:

    Nicely done, by the way

  5. […] Journalism & Objectivity: fact or fart! « Diary of a Media JunkieOct 20, 2010 … Elnur Kuliev says: October 21, 2010 at 11:31 am. totally agree…whenever I switch to CNN World Report I arleady know that they will be item … […]

  6. Nwunye says:

    Your friend is right. Facts are facts. It’s our job to,arrange them so that there is a narrative, a clear story arc that everyone can grasp – even if they don’t agree with it. But then again, how else would they agree let disagree if information was not present in a form people could first UNDERSTAND?

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