Case in Point


This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Objectivity vs. objectivity (column: WJI Times Observer)

Jay Rosen

WJI Times Observer

Case in Point column

Jay Rosen, New York University Department of Journalism, is one of journalism’s wise men. He is provocative and insightful about the calling of journalism. I highly recommend his blog Pressthink.

In late 2004, Rosen wrote a long piece on journalism as a religion as he celebrated the birth of Jeff Sharlet’s new web journal, The Revealer (nice name), which reviews the intersection of religion and the press. (Sharlet gives WJI a couple of shots in The Revealer!) In his article, Rosen proposes that American journalism is a religion with its own school of theology (e.g., Columbia School of Journalism), High Church (e.g., Columbia Journalism Review), statement of faith (e.g., “The Journalist’s Creed”), priesthood (e.g., Dan Rather), sacerdotal ceremonies (e.g., Pulitzer Prize awards), deity (e.g., First Amendment), spiritual crisis (e.g., doubting the value of journalism) and, finally, its own heresy (e.g., public or civic journalism). Rosen is a self-described journalistic heretic, for he advocates civic journalism.

As I understand Rosen’s view, civic journalism posits that journalistic objectivity is a chimera, and that journalists ought not to be hesitant about reporting events through a grid which sees the advancement of democracy as the summum bonum of the craft. In short, civic journalism is agenda-driven journalism. At WJI we agree that journalists, by necessity, view the world through a grid, but that it is not democracy which is the template, but the verifiable truth of a given situation. While we do not believe in metaphysical objectivity, we do believe in methodological objectivity, defined as a rigorous commitment to accurate and verifiable facts, balance, fairness and kindness.


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