May 29, 2021

The Dissolution of Objectivity

Amna Subhan

Two days after the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, the idea of objectivity is still under a microscope — rightfully so.

Paola Boivin, adjunct professor at Arizona State University, spoke with the 2021 class about ethics in sports journalism, mostly dissected objectivity.

Objectivity created through a white majority ends sees all things on equal footing. Often we’ll get one side and way the counterargument with the same weight.

Racism and human rights aren’t an opinion to be debated or refuted in the name of staying impartial.

To uphold this standard compromises other journalistic cornerstones.

“Both side-ing” an oppressed group and the oppressor isn’t fair and balanced. It heightens harm for marginalized groups rather than minimizing it.

Rather than holding institutions accountable, it gives them legitimacy.

Boivin worked in the business for a long time as both reporter and columnist for the LA Daily News and the Arizona Republic; she said she’s had to relearn what objectivity means in the field.

Before last year, she may haven’t agreed with journalists tweeting #blacklivesmatter if they weren’t covering it. Still, now after conversations with students at ASU’s Cronkite school and such as these with SJI students, she’s come to a more nuanced conclusion.

I’ve seen this play out again recently involving news in the Middle East. Headlines covering it often give false equivalency to each party scared of using words like occupation or oppressed people. In this situation, the facts clearly state there is an aggressor and an oppressor.

It’s terrifying to call out these discrepancies in the industry while still hoping for a future in it. Still, after discussions like these among other minority journalists, I know it’s important to do it diplomatically for future journalistic integrity.

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