Thoughts on Transparency, Objectivity

I agree that “transparency is the new objectivity,” and I have long valued transparency over principles of objectivity. I think independent media shows us more and more just how valuable transparency is in journalism, especially in advocacy journalism. Democracy Now! doesn’t pretend to hide its obvious biases and rather lets its audience know exactly where it is coming from, just as many other progressive independent outlets do. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, outlets like the National Review and Breitbart do not conceal the ideologies that clearly drive their content, so the reader is able to go in knowing all information is told through a certain lens, and it is critical that that lens is taken into account.

I would argue that most educated people would say the same about mainstream media — that each outlet has a particular lens that it looks through, all of which are rooted in their corporate funding. But what mainstream media fails to do is disclose this lens, instead striving for the ever unattainable objectivity. And I think this failure to disclose perspective is a direct result of the profit-driven nature of mainstream media. If it is explicit about where it is coming from, it may drive away viewers who do not agree with that point of view. Thus, mainstream media attempt to remain as seemingly centrist as possible, with no political leanings influence the way it chooses to cover the news.

But of course, not having a point of view is impossible, and pretending that it is is just bad journalism. Attempts at objectivity simply cloud organizational thought processes and sourcing strategies that are crucial to both credibility and gaining an holistic understanding of the narrative being told. In this way, trying to be objective is actually a disservice to the public and only serves private interests. Of course this doesn’t mean that media should be spouting off biases as if they are fact, but this is where the principle of transparency comes in handy, and where it is even more useful today now that we have a web of information all connected through links. The more a journalist, whether independent or mainstream, can be transparent about their backgrounds, personal ideologies, and influence of these things on how they source and report the news, the better informed the public will be.

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