The myth of objectivity

A former Star & Sickle journalist also views Nicolas Kristoff’s lament for days gone by with a skeptical eye:

I’m not saying this is utter rubbish (how’s that for a left-handed compliment), but I am convinced that the so-called objectivity, nothing-but-the-facts model really doesn’t do the trick, especially when the facts are being chosen, ordered and told by reporters, 80 to 90 percent of whom are liberals.

It’s remarkable that after all this time, there are still only a few journalists such as Eric Black who are capable of recognizing that, in hindsight, maybe they weren’t collectively all that objective after all. I’ve known a fair number of journalists over the years, from NPR stars to wannabees putting in their time at the little local papers, and I can count on one hand the number that didn’t hold completely predictable left-liberal views on every major issue.

It was particularly amusing when I sent in three sample columns when the St. Paul Pioneer Press decided they wanted a new columnist to replace their token conservative who was departing. Keep in mind that at the time, I was not only their video game columnist, but I’d written one or two editorial page pieces on technology issues that no one there had been capable of grasping, such as the Unabomber’s manifesto and, more importantly, was the only columnist at the paper to be nationally syndicated in years. I can’t remember what the third column was, but the first two were explaining how the economics of taxpayer funding for sports stadiums didn’t add up and showing that conceal carry laws never lead to the oft-predicted bloodbaths.

The editor was very uncomfortable in trying to explain that while my writing was good enough for the Tech page, I just “wasn’t right for the Editorial page”. Translation: “your opinions aren’t right for any opinion page over which I have any say”. Needless to say, I was shocked that I didn’t get the slot. I think he seriously thought I was crazy, as opposing taxpayer-funded stadiums is downright heresy to any newspaper editor who depends on filling up his Sports page with news about the local team and selling advertisements to their fans.

I’m not in the least bit bitter about it, but I’m certainly not shedding any tears for the gatekeepers either as the technology-enabled barbarians storm the gates. Nor, I think, is any other right-of-center newspaper reader who had to put up with that faux objectivity for decades. In the news business, you don’t have to tell people what they want to hear, but you really do have to avoid insulting their intelligence. Newspaper readers may read at only a eighth-grade level on average, (or, more likely, that’s just the lowest common denominated target for which editors aim), but even an elementary school child can detect when you’re pulling one over on him if you do it every single freaking day.

This post brought to you courtesy of the Fraters Libertas, who, after yesterday’s post, I doubt I’ll be visiting on NARN anytime soon… I am renegade, Ice…man.