Objectivity in journalism is defined by Iowa State Journalism professor, Michael Bugeja, as “seeing the world how it is, not how you wish it were.” In contrast transparency means “to take responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decision to the public,” according to the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.
In the SPJ Code of Ethics, there is an entire section titled “Be Accountable and Transparent” and nothing on objectivity. It actually does not mention the word once.
As a journalism student it has been ingrained in us through several journalism courses and hours and hours of writing and editing that we just be objective in our reporting. Although in a different world this may be a possible goal to achieve, in the world we live in, it is not.
It is nearly impossible to remain unbiased in your writing and reporting, as David Weinberger writes in his blog post “Transparency is the new objectivity.” In my opinion, Weinberger hit the nail on the head.
He writes,”Objectivity used be presented as a stopping point for belief: If the source is objective and well-informed, you have sufficient reason to believe. The objectivity of the reporter is a stopping point for reader’s inquiry.”
This quote is one of the factors that separates mainstream and independent media. Mainstream media outlets have been prevalent for so long that they do not need to prove themselves as reporters or their credibility as a station. People who religiously watch these stations, believe every word that they are fed and believe it all to be objective. These people are often within the generation of my parents and grandparents. They would never trust news from a website from which they’ve never heard of.
Although independent media outlets have also existed for decades, more often than not they do not last due to issues with revenue. We are just now coming into an age of media where strong indy outlets are taking hold and look as though they will not be taken down.
The difference between mainstream and indy is that one claims to be objective in their reporting and one pursues transparency in their reporting. Guess which is which?