What's Wrong With Objectivity
The New York Times reported today that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s office asked a Manhattan high school newspaper to alter quotations of the Justice following a talk he gave at the school. As a result, the high school paper’s story on the talk was delayed.
Although Justice Kennedy is apparently a strong advocate of the First Amendment right to free speech, what is more surprising is that a high school newspaper is being treated as a powerful, unforgiving news source. But that is how the media are today: powerful and unforgiving.
Powerful because media purport to tell the truth, and should you nag about big-T Truth, they are at least meant to be accurate; objective is usually the word used. Objectivity was a fine standard when events simply happened before a reporter’s eye and the facts were dutifully recorded, but those times are gone. Today companies and individuals have public relations outfits meant to control what people understand about them.
Public relations is defined as the practice of managing the communication between an organization and its public. It is a relatively recent industry, one made possible by mass communication. The BBC documentary The Century of the Self traces the history of the public relations industry back to Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew. Here is an interview of Bernays explaining how he developed the industry.
“I decided that if you could use propaganda for war you could certainly use it for peace. ‘Propaganda’ got to be a bad word because of the Germans using it, so what I did was to try to find some other words, so we found the words ‘Council on Public Relations’,” Bernays said.
The media is unforgiving because print and video now function like a steel box from which no one is permitted to escape; that someone misspoke now proves them completely incredible on all accounts. Apparently despite all of Justice Kennedy’s considered opinions on the bench, the possibility of a damning quotation in a high school newspaper is threatening.
The media need to account for public relations machines when reporting and stop pretending that objectivity is the ultimate journalistic standard.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.
- Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
- When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
- Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.