Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forget Stifling or Insulting the Intelligence of His Audience; It's Unethical!

Sean Braisted has a comment from the new WKRN Manager on why she has shut down any attempt by the station's politics blogger to express his own opinions on the stories he reports.

The manager is actually setting the station's political blogger up, ironically, for unethical journalism. The worst thing a station manager can do is to discourage reporters from admitting their biases and from showing their political proclivities, and thus, merely leaving it to the audience to figure them out.

It is not unethical for a reporter to have an expressed bias. It is unethical if the reporter reports without admitting that bias to his audience and without letting the audience judge the difference between a neutral and a politically-influenced account.

Misdirected objectivity, under the pretense of neutrality, is too much power in the hands of mainstream media. Journalistic neutrality ought to be practically negotiated between media and audience, rather than exclusively dictated from on high by professional editors and managers.

When the manager discourages a full account from a reporter who blogs--opinions and all--then she is in effect denying that opinions might influence the story in ways that she and the reporter could miss. Denial does not make for good journalism, and it makes for awful blogging.

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