Can journalists be objective?

We're all dripping with opinion.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Can journalists be objective?

Cynthia McFadden: I rarely try to tell anyone what to think, though I think it’s just ludicrous for journalists to say, “I don’t have an opinion.” We all have opinions. We’re all dripping with opinion. The truth for someone in my position is, “Can I be fair? Can I be fair in what I’m saying?” which is quite different from . . . One of my favorite people in this business, Howard Stringer, who I never worked for. But when he was President of CBS News, he once said something to me that I think we should all remember, which is: “Cynthia, beware the myth of evenhandedness.""What’s that?” I’d say. He said, “You know you’re gonna do a profile of me, so you find . . . you line up five people who love me and five people who hate me. You put all that garbage on the air and you say, ‘That’s the truth."  Well of course that’s not the truth. Maybe we should love him. Maybe we should hate him. Maybe it is something more complex than that. But my job as a journalist is to try to sort out good information from bad information, and present that – which doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion. It does mean that I try to be fair in presenting the information that I am able to gather.

 

Recorded on: Jul 7 2007