Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ted Koppel, You Had Me Until "Walter Cronkite"

Ted Koppel writes a nice little piece in the Washington Post lamenting the loss of 'objectivity' in the news media. He even had me buying in a bit until this:

Much of the American public used to gather before the electronic hearth every evening, separate but together, while Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Frank Reynolds and Howard K. Smith offered relatively unbiased accounts of information that their respective news organizations believed the public needed to know.

Please. Walter Cronkite? This is the man who broke the bonds of objectivity for the news media when he decided to editorialize on the Vietnam War. I don't care if you think he was right or wrong in doing so; you cannot argue that he made a giant leap into the subjective when he did.

This has been one of my long standing criticisms of journalism. Pure objectivity is impossible. You cannot report a news story in a way that anyone will pay attention by just stating the facts. Some, a rare few, make an admirable attempt at objectivity, but subjectivity always creeps into marketable news. Always. I prefer an open honesty about that subjectivity over trying to pretend to the objective while winning the public over to your side. Open subjectivity is not without its flaws, but I'll take it over converting from the shadows.

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