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Objectivity in Journalism

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4734-0
248 pages
January 2013, Polity
Objectivity in Journalism (0745647340) cover image

Objectivity in journalism is a key topic for debate in media, communication and journalism studies, and has been the subject of intensive historical and sociological research. In the first study of its kind, Steven Maras surveys the different viewpoints and perspectives on objectivity. Going beyond a denunciation or defence of journalistic objectivity, Maras critically examines the different scholarly and professional arguments made in the area. Structured around key questions, the book considers the origins and history of objectivity, its philosophical influences, the main objections and defences, and questions of values, politics and ethics. This book examines debates around objectivity as a transnational norm, focusing on the emergence of objectivity in the US, while broadening out discussion to include developments around objectivity in the UK, Australia, Asia and other regions.

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Detailed contents vi

Acknowledgements x

Introduction 1

1 Why and when did journalistic objectivity arise? 22

2 What are the main objections to journalistic objectivity? 58

3 Why is there so much dispute over 'the facts'? 82

4 What are the grounds on which journalistic objectivity has been defended? 104

5 Is objectivity a passive or active process? 122

6 Can objectivity coexist with political or ethical commitment? 140

7 Is objectivity changing in an era of 24/7 news and on-line journalism? 173

8 Is objectivity a universal journalistic norm? 201

References 230

Index 254

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Steven Maras is associate professor in media and communications at the University of Sydney, Australia.
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  • An accessible overview of the key topic of objectivity
  • Innovative study that examines the different perspectives and theories on objectivity
  • Although focussed on objectivity in the US, the book also incorporates international debates from the UK, Australia, India and China
  • The author examines the origins of objectivity, major objections and defenses and analyses questions of ethics and regulation
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"This masterful synthesis of the literature will serve as an invaluable resource for students and researchers alike for years to come."
Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism

"A comprehensive, academic, and focused examination of journalistic objectivity."
Journalism and Mass Communication

"In what amounts to a comprehensive review of the academic literature, from classic studies by Walter Lipmann to more contemporary critics such as as Jay Rosen, Maras shows that journalistic objectivity is a much more slippery and fluid concept than the one defined by Walter Kronkite as 'the reporting of reality, of facts, as nearly as they can be obtained without the injection of prejudices and personal opinion'."
The Failed Estate

"An invaluable guide to the debates about objectivity. At a time when superficial attacks on objectivity proliferate, Maras forces us to think more deeply about the issue, as journalism undergoes a revolution in its ethics. This is a solid, accessible book for anyone who cares about responsible journalism."
Stephen Ward, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Continuing debate about the meaning and significance of journalistic objectivity will, as a result of this book, be much more informed and nuanced. Steven Maras does an excellent job in providing us with both an account of the idea of journalistic objectivity and an interpretation of its various meanings, shortcomings and continuing significance. A very thoughtful book on all counts."
Jacqueline Harrison, Sheffield University

"The technological and business revolutions that have transformed journalism have brought new attention to whether 'objectivity' is possible or even desirable. Steven Maras offers many valuable insights into the origins of this tangled concept, and the best ways for journalists, and the public that relies on them, to think about 'objectivity' now."
James Fallows, The Atlantic, author of Breaking the News

"This book makes a significant contribution to the field of journalism studies because it offers new ways of thinking about important matters that revolve around objectivity and are deeply connected with journalism.The beauty of this book is its thoughtful exploration of how and why it takes such a complex form and the value of considering objectivity in all its guises."
Lisa Waller, Deakin University

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