This is written in response to a Medium post by Lewis Wallace, a talented, brave and passionate young journalist who worked for the public radio show, Marketplace. He was fired this week for refusing to take down his post. The headline was: “Objectivity is Dead, and I’m okay with it.”
I disagree. A reporter’s job is to report, not to tell listeners what to think. It is a humble calling. Reporting is a craft, not an art.
One reason why Trump became President is the narcissism of our time. We all think we’re entitled to yell at each other. That everyone’s opinion is equally valid. It has become acceptable to take a verbal fire hose to those we disagree with.
There’s a place for resistance and protest. But bombast, ridicule and contempt are drowning out respectful disagreement, even good natured argument.
From TV, online media, newspapers, commercial radio and podcasting, there is much more opinion today. Not enough reporting.
One reason why so many people distrust us journalists is our lack of diversity. Not enough diversity of opinion. Diversity of class. Geographic diversity. We must do a better job of listening to those who make us uncomfortable. That includes listening to those who felt that Trump was preferable to Clinton.
The most important pursuit is the quest for truth. But truth can be elusive. This makes our jobs difficult, but profoundly important.
Journalism should strive to be more like science, where good researchers employ skepticism as they try to disprove their theories.
Objectivity may be in the emergency room. But it is not dead. Your view and my view of objectivity will be different. But we should still be searching for it just around the corner.