When a news outlet hires a reporter, the people who choose the reporter do so on the basis of multiple factors. One of them is “cultural fit,” another is whether the sample work presented is seen as valuable to or consistent with the outlet’s existing content. This is a reflection of perspective and inherent bias.
When I worked for public radio, my coverage of the arts, the environment and immigrant communities would not have been possible had my outlet not found them worthwhile. When a news outlet partners with a nonprofit or gets a grant to cover certain subjects, the outlet’s very act of applying for the grant is an agreement that consumer health or public art is valuable.
So, I’m in agreement with you, Lewis. I’ve never met a source who didn’t guess my political leanings based on my appearance and my outlet. And while many say that the appearance of bias prompts the audience to doubt your credibility, I say that is an old model. That is a model that worked only briefly in our history, and not well. In the 1960s and 1970s, stories about the Civil Rights Movement were badly skewed. In Augusta, the cause of the city’s riot was never covered. References to race and gender frequently suggested inferiority. Was this “objectivity?” No, it was a reflection of the newsrooms’ cultures and values.
My questions are, what are we presently sacrificing or gaining when we attempt objectivity? and what would change if we allowed reporters to hold opinions? Remember, journalists hold no special rights beyond the average citizen. Recent arrests remind us of that.