The End of Objectivity

31 Jan ’05

Dan Gillmor has a post on his new site, Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc., titled “The End of Objectivity”– it’s the beginnings of an essay on the changing nature of journalism in the face of the growth of the ‘net.  A very provocative topic in this time of media concentration, a shift in the political viewpoint of the mainstream media, and the explosive growth of blogging.

Dan has attracted a lot of trackbacks and comments on this post – it really is worth reading.  I’ve also left a comment there but it’s in a very long list – it’s reproduced below:

I’ve been wondering about this for a while now, and I am beginning to wonder whether ostensible objectivity is a quaint relic of a different time. This is not an original idea (indeed Jon Garfunkel alludes to this in a comment above), but perhaps the point is that now, with so many more voices, competition truly makes objectivity (and the proxies you mention) moot.

I am beginning to believe that as long as there are voices that allow me to inform myself with the range of ideas I need to function in society, I can decide for myself just how ‘objective’ I need those voices to be. And that is the true power of the network.

I know Fox is not objective, and I know the Village Voice isn’t either. That’s OK. I’m a grownup now, and I can consume their information and take what I need from it. In fact, their lack of objectivity may help me to view the world rationally – if Fox is beating a particular drum, knowing their bias I can draw conclusions about that particular drum.

There will always be a market for what the NYT brings to the table, ditto Fox, (hopefully) ditto the Village Voice. There will always be a market for accuracy and for a point of view. The internet has exploded the monolithic power of a few voices and will ensure that where there were few, there will now be many. And through the bump and grind and din of that marketplace, I will be informed. That to my mind is the power of grassroots journalism ….

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