FPI / September 16, 2020
American journalism should abandon all objectivity in the name of "social justice," according to a Stanford communications professor. Such a statement would have been considered shocking in an earlier era, however only noted commentator and law professor Jonathan Turley registered his objections.
In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Communications Professor Emeritus Ted Glasser insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.”
Glasser rejected the notion that journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.” Thus, “journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”
Glasser doubled down in an interview with Campus Reform, stating “My understanding of journalism, like my understanding of history, rests on the premise that there is no finally correct description of anything — only interpretations.” He added that “I’m not a big fan of the term ‘objectivity’ or ‘objective truth’ because it gets us talking about all the wrong things.”
Professor Wesley Lowery, who has served as a national correspondent for The Washington Post, also rejects objectivity. In a tweet, Lowery declared: “American view-from-nowhere, “objectivity”-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment…The old way must go. We need to rebuild our industry as one that operates from a place of moral clarity.”
Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, noted that "the alarming aspect of these views is that they are prevailing. It is now common to hear academics and reporters reject 'both sideism' as a trap and even a form of racism. Even the publishing of opposing views is now considered dangerous as shown by the removal of New York Times editor James Bennet, who resigned in the recent controversy over an editorial by Sen. Tom Cotton. I supported Bennet’s decision to publish that editorial and denounced the cringing apology of the Times after a backlash. Yet, the same journalistic figures at the New York Times who pushed for his removal have continued to espouse unhinged and untrue conspiracy theories in the name of advocacy."
Turley added: "With the collapse of objectivity will come the collapse of journalism."
"Few people want to be fed a diet of what Professor Glasser believes is morally right as opposed to factually true," Turley wrote. "The problem is that this view will remove any real distinction between journalism and political science department; between reporters and social warriors."
What will be lost with the death of objectivity, Turley noted, "is one of the most important protections of liberty found in a free press."
Free Press International