Media Mashup: September 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.00.09Journalism: Hunter Thompson and Objectivity

“With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as objective journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”

See other HT truisms at

Journalism: Objectivity, Fairness and Balance?

Eric Metaxas, a thoughtful analyst, asserts that “good journalism” is dead.

He writes: “Tell today’s faux journalists that you’re onto their game. And drop your subscription if necessary. The fourth estate is in economic free fall. Perhaps its lack of integrity is a big reason why.”

And he offers some good advice: “Befriend a journalist. Journalists need sources, so become one. And too few reporters these days ‘get’ religion. So let’s help them understand it.” See more at

I agree with much of what he says, but I think the notions of objectivity, fairness and balance have been dead a long time.

The following is what I wrote to my colleagues in the Department of Journalism at Temple University:

I am not certain graduates have a strong sense of ethical structures in journalism outside of objectivity, fairness and balance. I question these standards as the backbone of journalism because the definitions of objectivity, fairness and balance vary from journalist to journalist. I note that objectivity no longer exists in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. That has been the case since 1996 and has continued through last year’s iteration. In the latest SPJ code, fairness deals with the right of privacy and response. Balance appears in the code, but the definition is not readily apparent.

I have come up with some other ethical buzzwords, which may be more useful. These include accuracy, transparency and professionalism. Accuracy seems obvious, although it does include admitting mistakes. Transparency in the SPJ code deals with the methods used in reporting and editing. I think that is good, but the standard should include the transparency of the reporter’s bias. Professionalism deals with a variety of standards, which includes not accepting gifts beyond a certain value, refusing free trips and other practices.

Journalism: Clickbait Rules

Townhall offers some interesting insights into the media industry.

“For years — until the advent of talk radio, Fox News and social media — the left-leaning mainstream media held a stranglehold over the coverage of news and politics. The New York Times was nicknamed ‘The Gray Lady,’ reflecting its dominance as the most powerful news source in the world. Located in fancy downtown high-rises, with flashy slogans and logos, these media conglomerates presented an illusion of immense power and influence. The reality was never that good.”

For more details, see

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to


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