"Objective" journalism was a business model
We need a realistic account of media ethics
In late March, the former Washington Post editor Martin Baron wrote a stirring defense of journalistic objectivity in his former paper.
The piece is shaped by the contours of his various fights over the years with former Post reporter Wesley Lowery. Baron doesn’t mention the dispute directly, and Lowery says he has simply avoided addressing those criticisms, which related more to the practice of objectivity than to the theory. Most of the replies to Baron that I’ve seen take some version of this line, though Brian Beutler offers what I think is a smarter criticism, namely that the practice of journalism inherently involves lots of questions that don’t have an objective answer.
I once prodded a high-ranking NYT employee about the paper’s coverage of the Clinton email scandal, challenging him to defend the proposition that the volume and prominence of the topic in his paper was equal to its significance in the world. He conceded that it was not. But he also noted, correctly, that the pa…