Is Objectivity Outmoded?

Yesterday, in an NPR “Talk of the Nation” segment, Jeff Jarvis and Ted Koppel debated the notion of objectivity in news stories. Is it outdated, or is its loss, in favor of partisan bickering on cable news programs, one of the reasons for our polarized polity and acrimonious public square?

The news hook for the segment was Koppel’s Washington Post piece criticizing MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and his ilk. In the wake of Olbermann’s brief suspension for making campaign donations, Koppel took to the pages of the Post to bemoan the loss of straight news.

Unfortunately, the pieces, the rebuttals, the debates, all seem to cast more heat than light, becoming part of the barrage of opinion all participants say they oppose. No real investigation of objectivity as “a strategic ritual,” which has been discussed far more interestingly here, almost 30 years ago.

Here’s the “Talk of the Nation” segment.

Here’s Koppel’s piece in the Washington Post.

Here’s Olbermann’s response to Koppel.


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