The Ethics of Election Coverage
Stanford Magazine
127

Prof. Glasser’s article is exactly why we need to insist on an objective press. His account is opinion and strongly biased, because he is trying convince others of his way of thinking. This is OK for an opinion piece, but should not be treated as a model for how news should be presented.

An example is his quote, “ Objectivity and its co-conspirators — neutrality, impartiality, detachment, disinterestedness…” Rather than looking at “objectivity” with a neutral eye, he is trying to convince us that objectivity is sinister….it’s “con-conspirators” include “detachment” and “disinterestedness.” This is pure bunk and is not rooted in any manner of scientific thought. To the scientist, objectivity can never be achieved through disinterest. In fact, this is why the hard sciences use methods such as single-blind and double-blind studies and review. Biases creep in constantly, to the point that objectivity is impossible without intense focus (“interest”) in maintaining objectivity. I believe Prof. Glasser has confused “objective journalism” with “sloppy journalism.”

But here is the even more dangerous aspect of Prof. Glasser’s lack of objectivity: he misuses Prof. Rorty, who says, “ To know is to represent accurately what is outside the mind.” He then goes on to claim, through disconnected sleight of hand — misusing the mirror analogy — that “accurate representation” is the same as “regurgitation.” Again, this is completely untrue. If a reporter wakes up to see a red sky in the morning, it is NOT an accurate representation to report, “the sky is red.” It is factually accurate that the sky was red when he/she looked, but “accurate representation” demands more than simple regurgitation. It demands analysis of facts, but Professor Glasser eschews “objective analysis” and is promoting a “subjective analysis” along the lines of fiction.

He explicitly argues that news reporters should become news makers. But this abdicates the role of watchdog. In his envisioned world, there are no checks-and-balances, because the reporters have become the news makers. This single-point-of-control world is the worst possible society.

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