Reevaluating “Objectivity”

The meaning of “Objectivity” should be reevaluated. Every reporter is a human being, and every human being has personal opinions. Sharing personal opinions in a constructive way can be much more powerful than hiding them behind a corporate wall to maintain legacy media standards. After all, this is why we now have the blogging and tweeting revolution. “Fit to Print” certainly isn’t ‘objective’ in the text book sense. We have a personal opinion to share. Should you care for our personal opinion? That’s up to you. 

Documentary filmmaking is actually one of the least objective forms of storytelling.  More so than narrative filmmaking even.  Legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris provides the following statement on his personal blog:

“There’s a common belief that documentary films have to be objective and impartial, presenting an unbiased picture of reality: just the facts, ma’am. Of course, this is a load of garbage. While documentaries can be mere journalism, the best ones ascend to the level of art, and by definition art expresses the personal viewpoint of the artist. The very act of editing film footage alters reality into a subjective expression, even in a humdrum report on a city council referendum airing on the local news.”

‘Subjectivity’ can be a very interesting form of communication.  I know, I know, you’re wondering why I would dare tell you up front that I’m going to provide you with a ‘subjective’ film on the newspaper industry (a business so entrenched in non-biased storytelling).  I’m telling you this so you understand that my choices in interview subjects, from David Barstow to Sibel Edmonds, my editing decisions, right down to the music I choose to put in the film is all a part of my personal vision for the film.  It’s simply one guy’s perspective.  No more.  No less. 

I suppose the popularity with blogging, tweeting and facbooking is a part of an overall movement away from the force-fed ‘objective’ viewpoints from legacy media such as Fox News, CNN, The New York Times and other outlets.  

Why is it then, that reporters such as Octavia Nasr from CNN are viewed as traitors to their industry?  Is it because they actually have first-hand experience in reporting on a subject which conflicts with the overall motivations of an institution such as CNN?   Why is it that Octavia is fired for being subjective in a tweet, while its permissible for Peter Jennings to make statements such as the following:

‎”I’m not a slave to objectivity. I’m never quite sure what it means. And it means different things to different people.”

CNN ‘spokesperson’ on Octavia Nasr: “[She] did not meet CNN editorial standards.” — maybe CNN didn’t meet the standards of a true journalist! 

(Oddly enough we actually agree with Jay Rosen on something …probably the only time)

Read more on Octavia: 

http://gigaom.com/2010/07/08/twitter-forces-media-to-confront-the-myth-of-objectivity/

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