Industry, Technology and Politics
Andrew Calcutt and Philip Hammond Objectivity, Objectification and the End of Journalism
Traditionally a core tenet of journalistic professionalism, the idea of objec- tivity has become the target of unremitting attack by academic critics of news and journalism. Today, however, such critics are behind the times. The critique has become the orthodoxy: not only is there a consensus against objectivity among scholars of journalism studies, but journalists themselves have internalised the critique of objectivity. The Society of Professional Journalists, for example, dropped the term ‘objectivity’ from its code of ethics in 1996, at the same time changing ‘seeking the truth’ to simply ‘seeking truth’ (Cunningham 2003: 26). Whatever merits it may have had in the past, the critique of objectivity has become, at best, redundant. This chapter argues for a new understanding of objectivity – as the corollary of human subjectivity, not its opponent. Subjectivity is not reduc- ible to personal opinion. It is, properly, the consciousness of human subjects acting with other subjects in making the world our object. We subjects first make the world our object; then we make it again, this time as the object of our subjectivity. Objectivity arises from the collective application of subjectivity in the contentious process of producing mental objects – knowledge – designed to capture that material object – the external world – which we subjects have previously made. Objectivity is the condition of those mental objects which are the further objectification of the objective world – the world made into their object by human subjects. In that journalism is a form of knowledge, it is a particular mental object...
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