Everyone has bias. Journalistic objectivity is easy to confuse with offering personal views in a neutral tone of voice, or giving equal time/space to each side of an issue. Flat earth and round earth, five minutes each.
According to the American Press Institute, the late-19th-century ideal of “realism” held that truth would emerge when reporters presented the facts. But honest intentions can’t erase personal bias. During the Russian Revolution, journalist Walter Lippmann said reporters saw what they wanted to see. True objectivity lies not in the person but the method.
Kovach and Rosenstiel advocate three core principles for verification: transparency (name your source, tell how you reached your conclusions), humility (keep an open mind, don’t assume), and originality (do your own work, check your sources).
Former Washington Post correspondent Paul Taylor said he used to write the lead before he began work on a story, then compare it to the lead after he finished. If they were too similar, he hadn’t looked far enough beyond his preconceptions. He had more work to do.
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