Exploding the objectivity myth : a case study of participatory journalism
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Robert O'Sullivan
Is there a new genre of journalism emerging which legitimates active participation in the events being reported? If this genre is in existence,what has happened to the traditional ethic of journalistic objectivity? This article argues that journalistic objectivity is really an iconic code of practice. The code is broad enough to allow its ‘interpretation’ to accommodate specific circumstances and also entrenches the myth that a person can consciously set beliefs or prejudices aside when interpreting events. The argument that journalistic objectivity is encapsulated in a variable code of practice is supported by a case study of a civil stalking trial heard in the Queensland District Court in 2003. The complaint was brought by the then female Mayor of the Maroochy Shire against a former lover and business ssociate. The region’s major daily newspaper not only reported the trial on a day-by-day basis, it also ran reader polls about the Mayor’s suitability for the position she held and referred to other issues outside the evidence of the actual stalking trial. The trial Judge rebuked the paper from the bench for its blatant participation in what was a civil matter, noting that if the trial had been before a jury it would have been aborted because of the newspaper’s actions. The editor defended the paper’s involvement because he considered the salacious material revealed in evidence had greater public ramifications.