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Archive for November 25th, 2010

Time for journalism schools to unpack the tension between objectivity, subjectivity

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Q: What’s the most effective way to piss off a journalist?

A: Lie to her.

Result: Moral outrage on her part – followed by determined, disciplined digging into why the lie and who benefits from it. And outrage, being an emotion, often leads to subjective judgments.

Finding lies and telling people about them are what good, progressive journalism programs must teach, even the programs with a conjunction and the word communication (mass, strategic or otherwise) in their names. Communicators, be they journalists, public relations practitioners, advertising agency executives, government or corporate representatives, or bloggers should not get away with lies. Or prevarications. Or evasions. Or deceits. Or no comment.

But we all know that someone with an agenda, someone who is willing to break the spirit or letter of the law, will lie to protect that agenda or advance it. It takes an experienced, well-trained journalist to detect the lie and find a truth in its stead. (Yes. I know: People who are bright and observant but who are not journalists can detect lies, too. But do they do it for a living? Make a career of it? For low pay and a lack of respect from the people who benefit from being told of the lies?)

Enter the journalism schools – the really good, properly focused ones, the ones not preoccupied with teaching the latest social media techniques, or having the best possible technology, or demanding faculty spend more time cranking out papers for peer-reviewed journals rather than teaching how to detect the lies.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized