The Objectivity Bias

Friday, July 29, 2011


What happens when the fear of appearing partisan prevents journalists from accurately describing what's going on? Are journalists struggling with objectivity bias when it comes to reporting on the debt ceiling? The Columbia Journalism Review's Ryan Chittum tells Brooke  why he thinks the U.S. press has trouble communicating extreme political views.

Comments [7]


The guest pointed out that the Democrats could have raised the debt ceiling quickly last year but delayed it off for political reasons and thus sparking a world wide crisis that could have been easily avoided. Isn't that kind of a big deal? Why was that angle of the story not reported?

Aug. 02 2011 10:59 PM
Matt from Iowa

With all due respect to OTM (because I think you do generally above average quality work) what is next for information distribution?
People will always seek to influence peoples' opinions, especially when money is involved, but how do we get to a better era of "reporting" (in whatever form that takes)? Television, and even current internet distribution of news has its inherent flaws due to the cash flow issue (How do you fund good journalists doing good work?), and I don't think we've seen a truly golden age of information, so we need to start thinking about what the future models will be, and how they will work. We need to establish these ideas now, so we can stay a step ahead of the sickness that has brought press, radio, television and much of the internet down already.

Aug. 02 2011 09:57 PM

Krugman - yes, the guy who never printed a retraction for getting his opinion piece on Jared Lee Loughner correct, but that's another OTM story - says that Republicans are dangerously intransigent, and are being pushed around by the ill-informed, unwashed electorate. But it's that electorate that is finally smart enought to know that giving the government more money is like giving a profligate higher credit limits and expecting them to change. It doesn't happen.

If Krugman thinks that people who think cut, cap, and balance is extreme - and only a guy who thinks that we need another qualitative easing to get the economy going would say that when it hasn't done a thing to add any jobs would - then call me extreme. Many of us feel that it's relentless compromise by spenthrift representatives on BOTH sides that have gotten us here.

And it looks like there will be an agreement, and even some republicans had a part.

Jul. 31 2011 08:54 PM

ROBERTSON: [...] We're not going to take a position one way or another.

Wow. What a refreshingly uncommon notion!

Jul. 31 2011 06:06 PM

GLADSTONE: Is it true, though, that most of the compromise has been made by the President.

Ignoring for a moment that this question is leading your interviewee, it's an unknowable answer. The President has fallen far short of his promise to have a "transparent Whitehouse" (anyone remember that? you can find campaign speeches on Youtube where he says it if you've already forgotten)... and the televised Whitehouse meetings never happened.

In that respect, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss", replete with the same backroom deals as before.

It's hard to know exactly who is compromising more without access to those meetings.

All we have is what Carney tells us; which may be untrue but uncontested (for maneuvering reasons) by the GOP leadership. They may be giving the President a face-saving deal by allowing him to look flexible in public, in exchange for concessions.

Come on, Gladstone! Are you really that naive, or really that partisan that you're willing to paint an adoring picture based on supposition?

Jul. 31 2011 06:00 PM
Haans from Cleveland

As Paul Krugman said Friday: "If Republicans started to claim the Earth was flat, journalists would report: "Views differ on planet's shape""

The cult of objectivity contributes to the problem because the right uses this to manipulate and control the debate

Jul. 30 2011 04:42 PM

"'REPUBLICANS ARE AT FAULT'; that doesn't need to be your lede..."

Oh well, there go most of the stories on OTM.

Jul. 30 2011 03:14 PM

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