When I did my Master’s degree, I learned the value of presenting a balanced argument. The idea was not to simply persuade your readers as to one viewpoint or the other. Your job as a professional, independent and academic writer, was to research the facts and to present both sides of the argument, from which you (the reader) could inform yourself and your draw your own conclusions.
This is exactly what is missing today. From both sides of the spectrum, be it mainstream media, social media, the press core or alternative media; we are presented with undeniable truth and fact that appear to be anything but. We are bombarded with information, which is presented and slanted to direct you to one conclusion. The problem with this approach of course is that…
When everybody thinks the same, we are no longer thinking.
What then is objectivity? Is it simply being independent and unbiased?
It actually goes a little further. It’s also about what media outlets choose to cover and not discuss. It’s about removing yourself from the equation and being able to take a step back from your own viewpoint. I regularly watch the BBC for example, and I also watch RT, whereby I compare and contrast issues that both media organisations cover. Both are state owned. Both portend to be professional, neutral and putting across a unbiased and impartial view according to ‘guidelines’.
However, one only has to count the number of anti-fracking articles on RT to see that Russia is clearly threatened by energy independence and is anything but impartial. As much as I personally might dislike the idea of fracking technology and the potential environment damage, if it could be proven to be safe, then naturally we should look at it, analyse it and base any new project development on these facts. There are examples in the US of successful co-existence in projects between farmers, oil extractors, and local communities but these will almost never get a mention by RT. Have a read through a variety of RT’s fracking articles and you will quickly pick up how the reporting lacks total objectivity and is pushing a clear narrative. http://rt.com/search/news/term/fracking/
The BBC also found itself it hot water over its seemingly biased coverage of the Scottish vote for independence. That said, at least the BBC acknowledged the issue on their own website but to just compare how different the coverage was just have a look at the two very different viewpoints.
- BBC coverage –Scottish independence: Crowd protests against ‘BBC bias’ –
- RT coverage: BBC accused of anti-independence bias after editing out Salmond’s reply to ‘bank exodus’ question
Alternative media isn’t much better at times. Take http://truthinmedia.com/ for example. I don’t think I can find one positive article about the U.S. administration or any administration actually doing anything right. Now, think outside the box. How is that actually possible? Surely, some parts of a government administration must be doing something right or positive somewhere. As much as I respect Ben Swan for his investigate journalism and style, it is still typical of the alternative media styles that present mainstream media and government as completely incompetent. Whilst that actually may be true, the lack of objectivity (choosing to only cover negative topics) doesn’t allow us as readers to be independently informed or make up our mind without subscribing to that point of view.
Some popular misconceptions in mainstream and alternative media.
- Russia is always wrong and the west is right. In reality, Russia is as it always been. Indifferent to the west, and protecting its interests as we do ours.
- Terrorism from the Muslim world is a great danger to us. In reality, we are a far greater danger to them.
- Mainstream media is biased and not bipartisan. In reality, all media is state owned, even RT and Iran’s PressTV, so none of them are truly independent. Associated Press is about as good as it gets.
- Greece is responsible for its situation and bringing down Europe. How on earth can a six-month old government be held accountable and responsible for 40 years of criminal lending and spending, done by former officials and international institutions?
- History is always written by the winners. We have archaeology for a reason. To establish fact.
I could write another several pages on this rather complex and huge issue today in the information age in which we find ourselves – whereby we want truly independent, neutral and unbiased reporting. Basically, we want to see it and tell like it really is, not how it’s perceived and sold. Somewhere between the left and right lies truth and objective knowledge. To allow us to get there though you have to present both sides of the argument.