Originally, I had wanted to research the current state of social media guidelines, but decided to change course and expand on a topic that I had recently posted about – objectivity.
Last week, I wrote an entry on the matter of objectivity. I questioned if it was possible to be completely objective in journalism? Besides linking to this article from The Guardian on “Does journalism still require impartiality?” I had explored a piece from Retraction Watch entitled “NYT journalist: I am not a neutral observer-can I still be a fair reporter?” It was about Tracy Tullis. She had written a story for The New York Times about an elephant and had also previously signed an online petition supporting sending the elephant to a sanctuary.
What I found interesting is that in the manual presented to her by The New York Times had no mention of online petitions and appeals. I was especially curious because nowadays there are so many online petitions, charities and fundraisers where a person might sign their name without even thinking twice. How is it a problem if a journalist signed a petition to save lions and then covered Cecil the Lion? So long as it was filtered through editors and remained factual, and on point without presenting itself as a personal agenda – what’s the harm? It is so difficult to hide our beliefs and opinions nowadays, it’s not impossible but it can be difficult.
I want to explore the topic of objectivity and impartiality further, possibly reaching out to Tracy Tullis or finding other situations involving online petitions, charities, fundraisers, etc. I want to see how news organizations have changed these guidelines, or if they have.