Media objectivity is a myth

Our worldview determines how we view, perceive, and interpret events around us. Likewise, they determine how we retell those events.

The media aren’t objective. They insist they are, but they aren’t actually.

Objectivity itself is a myth, both inside and outside of journalism. Each of us throughout our lives has internalized countless subjective messages. Whether it’s messages about race, or gender, or ability, or science, or religion, or any other subject, we all have within us a collection of these subjective messages. And this collection creates our paradigm, our worldview. And that worldview determines how we view, perceive, and interpret events around us. Likewise, they determine how we retell those events.

And this phenomenon exists within journalism.

When I was in elementary school, my social studies teacher taught me the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. This is the classical foundation of journalism. We can use them to test the so-called objectivity of the media.

Take most any crime report in Lethbridge, for example. The who is usually there as the name of the suspect. The what is usually there as the action the accused supposedly committed. The when is usually there with a date and time of the action. The where is usually there as the location of the action.

But the why? The why is often missing.

Why did the accused person commit that action? What circumstances led to them being in that situation? What choices did they make in their lives that led them to those circumstances? What environmental components influenced those choices?

Let’s talk about some specific cases.

Why did the cops parade Denzel Bird in front of the media? Bird was accused of aggravated sexual assault against a woman in 2016. Why didn’t the cops parade Gary Lippa in front of the media? Lippa was accused of creating and distributing child porn, as well as raping a 13-year-old girl.

The fact that these questions often lie unanswered and even unexplored tells us that some information isn’t investigated. And if some information isn’t investigated, it’s missing. And if information is missing, then the information presented to us was selected subjectively.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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