Recently I have been thinking a lot about objectivity and journalism in a new digital environment, since I am writing an article on impartiality at the BBC. Yesterday, I came across a fascinating piece on journalism and truth written by Mathew Ingram from GigaOM. Ingram claims that truth is more difficult to achieve in journalism today. He cites Clay Shirky from a recent Poynter conference:
Shirky noted in an essay that was published as a companion piece to the Poynter forum, the fact that anyone can make themselves heard about virtually any topic — something that was never possible before the web and social media came along — makes it a much more complicated task to arrive at any kind of actual consensus about the truth.
When we talk about objectivity, we need to be careful. It’s not that objectivity or truth is dying… it is simply transforming. To quote Nicholas Lemann from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism:
The nostalgics can take comfort that the opinion media complex isn’t a recent invention: “Journalism was opinion journalism from about 1700 to 1900.”
Arriving at the truth may be complicated because there are more sources available and more “moving parts” in our narratives. But is it really more complicated to achieve objectivity or truth? This remains a question for debate.
More on the article here.