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Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Philosophy | 4 comments

Objectivity vs. Impartiality

It is common to require us journalists to be objective and impartial at the same time, which is a contradiction. We are either objective, or we are impartial. But we can not be both at the same time.

Objectivity is sticking to the facts, being guided by the evidence and considering an event will be closer to the truth the more supporting evidence it has.

Meanwhile, impartiality is not taking sides (lets see who can do this), to give up making value judgments and treat as equivalent different versions of an event, believing the truth is in the middle. The existence of gravity and it’s denying do not add points to be closer to the truth.

Knowing more points of view doesn’t move you towards or away from the truth, as long as those views are not supported by the evidence. To state otherwise is an expression of the childish notion of respecting beliefs that has been made popular due to postmodernism, but the thing is… facts are not impartial!

Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney and the Nazis committed genocide killing millions of people.

Impartiality relativizes facts. It is to believe that both the Nazis and the Allies had their good reasons, that they both could be right and that it is wrong to take sides.

I am not, nor I intend to be impartial — I do as much as I can to base my views and opinions on the best available evidence. I’m not afraid to choose sides and to say that, objectively, there are some cultures, ideas, beliefs and opinions that are better than others.

How come it took the BBC so long to get it?

  • johzek

    The requirement to be impartial and objective at the same time seems to be describing a simple reporter rather than a journalist. I would expect a so called journalist to be at least somewhat knowledgeable in the relevant subject matter and consequently able to separate the wheat from the chaff to some extent.
    Hopefully the reporters can be just left to deal with people and events while the journalists concentrate on more substantial issues.

    • Geoff_Roberts

      I believe one’s point of view substantially affects reporting – even with news sources generally considered unbiased (CNN, the big three network national newscasts). What gets reported and how an event or issue is reported is very dependent upon the biases of those who make news decisions..

      I know I’ll catch heat for this considering I’m on an atheist’s website but I believe Obama is essentially getting a free pass from the so-called mainstream media. If it was Bush who had done anywhere near what Obama has done then the mainstream media would be hysterical and asking for impeachment.

      Now I’m honest enough to admit I’m biased as well. My personal point of view affects my opinion of how the news is presented just as with others. I believe one should always consider the source when getting “news”. Many people only get their news from one source and think they’re getting an unbiased point of view when that is hardly the case.

      • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

        Yes, everyone is biased – that’s why it is important to get the most objective source there possibly is and present the best available evidence.

        I’m Colombian and I haven’t been to the States in a while, so I cannot make a qualified statement on Obama’s treatment by USA’s mainstream media.

        Cheers!

    • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

      Hi, @johnwilczek:disqus, welcome to Avant Garde.

      I hadn’t realized that could be a relevant difference between what a journalist does and what a reporter does, but it seems quite reasonable.

      Thank you very much for your comment!