Here is an example of a reading summary we had to do for our News Perspectives class. This is some of the real work a journalism student does!
Reading Title: Epistemologies in Contention: Journalistic Objectivity as (Un)workable Philosophy
Author: Robert A. Hackett and Yuezhi Zhao
The authors highlight four distinct philosophies concerning objectivity in this article; two which believe objectivity is possible and two which think it’s impossible.
The philosophy of Positivism is pro-objectivity. This theory contends that what can be experienced by our senses are facts and what cannot be does not exist. As journalists, we must use particular techniques of observation but if done correctly, we can most definitely present an accurate article on the event we covered. Positivism is more concerned with accuracy than with balance.
The authors move to Conventionalism and insist that it is the opposite of Positivism in that the reporter never experiences direct perception of the world but sees it only through a lens of preconceived categories or concepts. Objectivism, therefore, cannot exist. The philosophy also highlights the use of language in holding back any kind of objectivity: “The value-laden and pre-structured nature of language compromises journalism’s claims to objectivity.”
Another philosophy that claims objectivity is impossible is Postmodernism/structuralism. Through use of semiotics, an individual does not experience direct perception; values always intrude. Media is actually guilty of constructing our perceptions of the world falsely.
The authors’ position is that of Critical Realism; in which they combine the prior three philosophies. There is indeed an independent reality but individuals can access it through discourse and constant revision and change. “The world is knowable — but not at first sight.” Thus, this philosophy believes objectivity is possible.