Objectivity News Organizations Are a Critical Source Essay

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News organizations are a critical source of information, and as such should be held to the highest standards of objectivity. News organizations that promote specific agendas, or attempt to entertain, should cease to present themselves to the public as news agents and be honest about their motivations and methods.

The desire for objective voices in the news is a longstanding one. In 1967, the Public Broadcasting Act required "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." (H., 1975). Canada has a law that insists news broadcasts deal only in factual information, with no conjecture or misrepresentation, thus preventing news agencies from promoting specific agendas. Proponents of such laws, and of objectivity in news in general, point to the role that news agencies play as the "fifth estate," a public service role to provide information that the public can then digest through individual lenses. If information is already digesting through the ideological or editorial lens of the broadcaster, it becomes opinion and ceases to be news. At that point, the news broadcast becomes little different the state-owned news of repressive regimes.
While there is some muscle behind objectivity in publicly-funded broadcasters, including a number of measures put into place in the early 1990s to ensure that public programming is balanced (Hall, 1993), privately-owned broadcasters are not held to the same standard. Those broadcasters operate with profit as their motive. The business model of news broadcasters is that the must attract an audience, and then sell that audience to advertisers for revenue. The problem is that reporting the same news in the same way does little to help one broadcaster differentiate from the others. Thus, broadcasters become oriented either towards an "infotainment" style of newscast or it begins pandering to the worldviews of specific, definable demographics. Or both. The problem with doing that is that once the move away from pure-form objectivity has been made, a slippery slope towards outright propaganda has been….....

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