In the Trenches

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Jack Shafer has a thoughtful piece in Slate on what happens to journalistic objectivity at the front.

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  1. Even in peacetime, the cult of “objectivity” assumes a common “conventional wisdom” that doesn’t even come into question. The “both sides” model ignores the 80% of assumptions shared by both sides, and relegates to “extremism” those who want to call those fundamental assumptions into question. And the notion of “objectivity” usually translates into a “he said” style of reporting, in which official statements are not subject to direct factual analysis or verification by reporters; the reporter simply reports as straight news a denial by yet another official talking head. The idea that the reporter himself has an obligation to investigate the factual record, or to report the verifiable truth when it comes into conflict with official statements, is actually a VIOLATION of this ethos of “objectivity.”

    So long as over half of the column space of newspapers is generated by the output of state and corporate p.r. departments, and AP foreign correspondents write their stories in their hotel rooms from government press releases, the “alternative press” is the only place where you’ll find out what is going on.

  2. And there’s a bunch of “alternative press” that I find significantly less than objective as well.

  3. But ya gotta love “The Onion”

  4. Funny Vietnam would get mentioned in the article. Journalistas were REAL objective there.

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