You too, CNN? Objective Journalism Takes an Extended Holiday
In the wake of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, on-camera reporters understandably had trouble hiding their emotions when reporting from the scene. How anyone—regardless of profession—could not have been impacted is certainly a rhetorical question. Despite what many in the viewing world may sarcastically feel, reporters are living, breathing and feeling human beings. Many are also mothers and fathers. Their job, to interview fellow parents who’ve just experienced the ultimate, incomprehensible loss, certainly tested the composure and decorum of those reporting from the scene.
Unfortunately, the days following the massacre also led to repeated and unwelcomed interjection of opinion, once the investigation’s specifics had been revealed and the topic of gun control took center stage. Accordingly, the anticipated slants from the likes of conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC were there for the eyes to see. Like the presidential election before this tragedy and the fiscal cliff showdown that followed, the all-too-familiar talking heads and pontificators articulated their views through the slanted approach we’ve come to know over time.
Sadly, the subjective, highly emotional perspective found their way into the “hard news” reporting of CNN, long-considered a bastion of true, old-fashioned objective journalism, from the on-the-scenes reporting of Soledad O’Brien to the bombastic, salacious interrogation of Piers Morgan.
Those of us who were schooled in journalism learned early on that true, objective reporting should never include slant, subjective interpretation of facts, or the slightest trace of personal beliefs, no matter how deeply embedded they might be.
Gather the facts, and report them accurately and without the interjection of opinion.
Since its inception in 1980, CNN established a name for itself as a source of objective hard-news coverage offered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its journalistic prowess and integrity were honed through landmark coverage from international occurrences like the Challenger disaster in 1986, the Persian Gulf War five years later, and the attack on New York’s World Trade Center in 2001.
For more than 30 years, CNN was the “go-to” source for clear, unfiltered news coverage. Seemingly, ratings gains from upstarts Fox and MSNBC in recent years have impacted CNN’s approach. Sadly, hard-news just doesn’t sell these days.
But for those of us—and this group must be larger than network executives think—who seek unbiased, truly objective news reporting, we have to believe that opportunity exists for a national broadcast entity to stay on the straight line without taking sides on any issue—no matter how heightened sensitivities may be. Here’s hoping someone—anyone—sees this need and brings us “news coverage” in its truest, and most literal definition.
Photo courtesy of article.wn.com