Think BBC news is impartial

"Assault on the truth" poses a threat

The New York Times newsroom was in an uproar. She had published an article that was classified as offensive - to her own journalists. Less than two weeks after George Floyd's death, Republican Senator Tom Cotton had written an opinion section article entitled “Time to Send in the Troops”.

As a result, employees of the newspaper wrote a letter to management. "The decision to present this point of view without additional context makes the American public [...] vulnerable," they said.

The column's editor was sacked.

Yesterday the BBC's Director General made a statement affirming the importance of "trustworthy, impartial" news. As the dispute in the New York Times shows, some journalists are questioning this.

According to media expert Andrey Mir, we have entered the age of “post journalism”. Journalists suppress the views of people with whom they disagree and report the news with bias.

Supporters see this as an answer to Donald Trump's deliberate lies. When people hold dangerous views it is their duty to prevent readers from sharing them.

"Just reporting the bare facts [and] not being on everyone's side [...] doesn't always work, especially in these times," said Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post.

This contradicts the Code of Ethics of the American Society of Professional Journalists "seek the truth and report it".

Can journalism ever represent the objective truth?

Newspaper and opinion

No. Everyone is biased. Even journalists who try to be impartial can never be entirely successful. Your research will depend on the resources, how much time they have and who they are working with.

Yes. Many shocking facts would not have come to light without journalists. The Dreyfus case and the My Lai massacre are examples of truth-clarification reporting. Journalism underpins democracy.

You decide

  1. Would you protest if someone at your school gives a speech that goes against your own views?

activities

  1. In pairs, writes two newspaper articles, one containing a factual account of an imaginary event and the other a biased one.

Some people say

"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference and an elegant one for ignorance."

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) British author

What do you mean?

F & R

What we know
The internet and the polarization of political views have made it very difficult for news organizations to take an impartial stance. In the past, they saw objectivity as the key to attracting as many readers as possible. Now more than ever, people are consuming media that reflect their own views. It is therefore in the commercial interests of news agencies to get these views to the point.
What we don't know
The question is whether journalists have the right to tell other people what to think. A senior journalist complains that his colleagues see themselves as a “priestly caste” with a better understanding of truth and justice than others. Another argues that because most US journalists are middle-class, white and live in either New York, Washington DC, or Los Angeles, they have little sympathy for the rest of America.

important terms

Offensive
offensive
position
point of view
column
opinion section
General Director
director-general
Explanation
declaration
More trustworthy
trustworthy
More impartial
impartial
Bias
Bias
Code of Ethics
code of ethics
Biased
biased
reporting
media coverage
Underpinned
underpin