Student Voice: Objectivity and Fairness Reflection – Hailey Austin


By attending the “Objectivity & Fairness: A Thing of the Past?” event, I learned about the importance of writing from an objective viewpoint. The five panelists, Walter Hussman Jr., Charles Overby, Dr. Andrea Hickerson, Violet Jira, and Tony Pederson, provided thoughts and experiences from different backgrounds and explained how objectivity is present in their separate everyday lives.

For background, the idea of the panel arose from a common misconception that objectivity has gone extinct in the field. In reports such as “Beyond Objectivity,” various editors and writers claim that no one is truly objective anymore; therefore, journalists should not try to achieve it.

Not only is this bias recognized by the media, but the general public has begun to pick up on the lack of pure fact reporting from journalists. Between opinion shows on news stations and Trump’s claims about “fake news” regular consumers often fail to determine what is true and what is false. Because of this confusion, slightly more than 85% of people have little to no confidence in news reporting.

When hearing these staggering numbers, I began to ponder on my own news consumption habits, and, more specifically, how I weed out the biased broadcasts and articles. As someone who likes to keep up with what is going on in the political, social, and sports worlds, I take a lot of time verifying what is truthful. Often, I find myself trusting the general public on social media more than the news broadcast on television.

Chairman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Walter Hussman Jr., explained that the public feels this way due to a plethora of opinion shows on air. As a result of news stations having the ability to produce opinionated content for cheap, companies such as NBC, CNN, and FOX have created these shows increasingly more over the last few decades.

Although the ratings may be substantially higher than the broadcasts where reporters offer factual information, these major companies are doing a massive disservice to our society. Similar to the panelists, I find that as journalists, we have a duty to present all of the facts regarding a situation and then let the audience decide how they want to react. Additionally, it is vital to the field to have integrity and to fact-check our work. To help rebuild the public’s confidence in the media, journalists should start by labeling their opinionated content as an opinion.

Ultimately, the people’s perception of the media depends on us in the industry, so we should do everything we can to be objective in our reporting.