Singapore Media Watch

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In Focus: Objective Journalism and its role in society Part 2

In our second segment on "Objective Journalism and its role in society", we bring you an abstract of an article by Mr Robert Fulford, a prominent columnist at two U.S dailies - The National Post and The Globe and Mail.

Entitled "'Objective Journalism' There's no such thing", Mr Fulford argued passionately, drawing from his years of experience as a columnist that he has never met an objective journalist in his life and wouldn't want to.

Below is an abstract of his article:

'Objective' journalism? There's no such thing

Robert Fulford

(The National Post, 8 May 2004)

Just before retiring as publisher of the Toronto Star on Wednesday, John Honderich remarked on CBC radio that the Star's coverage of Israel is "fair and objective" -- surely an outlandish claim.

As a careful reader of his paper, and a student of the Middle East, I'm as certain as I am of anything on Earth that the Star routinely gives the benefit of the doubt to Israel's enemies and denounces every flaw it finds in Israel's policy.

Yet Honderich said he had "looked at our coverage" from this perspective and added that "I've had distinguished people like Janice Stein," a University of Toronto political science professor, also examine it. These distinguished people had agreed that the coverage is "in no way biased."

How could they say that? Aside from news stories, which in theory might be discussed on a case-by-case basis, the Star has a leading columnist, Haroon Siddiqui, who almost always expresses hostility to Israel's policies.

Were the Star interested in fairness it would require, at minimum, a columnist of similar stature coming down just as often on Israel's side. The Star has no such writer; it's not conceivable that it could have.

More important, the word "objective," coming from a publisher at this late date, indicates a serious failure of self-knowledge. The principle of objectivity was unmasked long ago as a beguiling fiction. In the U.S., the Society of Professional Journalists eliminated the word "objectivity" from its ethics code in 1996. (Read more...)


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