Thursday, January 15, 2009

The objectivity of my affection

As journalists, we're taught that the ultimate goal we can achieve is objectivity; that non-judgemental, unbiased, moral pedestal, from which we can cast a haughty gaze down upon the world and proclaim, "I judge thee."

Nonsense. There's no such thing as objectivity, or, at least, this is what we're told by another portion of our lecturers. One even went so far as to say, "I think that the greatest thing journalists could do would be to admit their own subjectivity." Blast him, he's right, the smooth headed trickster.

We're too open to the world and its pressures. In an ideal environment, sure, we could say what we wanted (so long as we were fair and balanced in our dealings with both sides of the story), but that's just not the case. We're driven by commercial pressures, by "news values" which devalue every story we're given, by watered-down press releases, by the watchful eye of partisan editors and political elites, and most of all by the public, who expect us to tell them what they want to hear. Seems the only thing which qualifies a "proper journalist" these days is a left-wing whackjob.

It's disheartening, to say the least, to think that when I'm qualified, I'll be thrust into a position that ranks just above paedophiles, serial killers and Fianna Fáil politicians on the scale of public disgust (1 being "tut-tut", 10 being "tar and feather"). But something's gotta bring home the bacon, and I might as well be having an influence on people than anything else.

If we can't be objective, then at least we can try and be as fair as our upbringing allows us. Let's not assume that all travellers are rabid thieves, or that all Muslims are terrorists, or that all Israelis are cold, heartless murderers. That just ain't how the world rolls, people. Life's too complicated to be objective. It's impossible not to pick sides, even when it's just two ants fighting over a breadcrumb. Why, it's human nature to have preconceptions and misconceptions.

It still sickens me, though, that what should be an endless quest to provide the public with the truth behind the lies put forward by the political elite who allegedly control the world's media organs should be driven by cold, hard cash and nothing more. If only people gave a toss about current affairs.

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