It’s a shame that some of the most informed people aren’t always allowed to be the most politically and socially active. Journalists, being in the heat of the information moment, arguably learn the most about current events than the audience of those journalists. Unfortunately, because journalists do have all of their individual personalities and interests (as was demonstrated by the phone-poll in class where everyone submitted word(s) to describe themselves,), they disqualify themselves from more advertised demonstrations of their beliefs.
Even so, in the long run, this may be the best way to produce high-quality news reports like CEO of The New York Times Company said. If political activists like Linda Greenhouse are seen at demonstrations which don’t draw in the general populous, then it is possible that readers/viewers won’t differentiate the beliefs of the reporter from the beliefs of the company. This jeopardizes the credibility (and the profit) of news reporting agencies. Economically speaking, reporters who aren’t blatantly associated with political entities are more viable. Plus, as a reader/viewer, hearing a story from a reporter that might have even a minor affiliation with the organization on which they’re reporting is distancing and makes me think twice or three times about the story they’re reporting on and its validity.
Bur do journalists have to give up themselves to become good journalists? As ideologues, no. Journalists are more approachable if they are ideologues, if you ask me. Journalists who add difference into the field are welcome, because monotoned reporters are as off-putting as extremist journalists. But where is the line drawn between a jazzy report and a colored opinion? For this, we return to the idea of objectivity in journalism. I liked graduate candidate Les L. Lane’s opinion that objectivity isn’t “where reality is perceived without distortions of any kind,” but is in fact a “contextual independence.” Journalists should have the ability to detach the facts from the situation and present the facts, still detached, to the public who can then interpret those how they wish. But a journalist doesn’t have to detach him/herself from the story. They just have to be able to refrain from injecting biases which are individual choices journalists are trying to help other people make more intelligently (I declare I hear the echo of the New York Times CEO’s comments). Therefore, ideologues—idea-holders—are sufficient candidates for good journalists if they can objectify facts.
Even so, the stories where the audience can see journalists as people reacting to an event and not reporting an event are some of the most sincerely reported stories available. Cheryl Fiandaca recalls her 9/11 reporting experience and hearing her reaction (especially at time1:40-2:10) to the events that day and that night are touching to the point of pity as we remember that the videos we have of 9/11 aren’t movie shots—real people held real camera and were really covered by black clouds of dust and debris. Real people died. And these reporters watched. Perhaps reporters sometimes wish they could give up their own personal attachments to stories when such traumatic things happen, but I’m glad they keep going, because stories like this change their future beliefs, thus shaping future stories to a degree.
Journalists as ideologues are valuable journalists. They are often times the most intelligent because they take an interest in their stories. And intelligent journalists are the ones who can best be “contextually independent” and report facts as solidly as possible while supply the least amount of bias.