After reading the letter from editor Marcus Trinidad in this week’s Barometer (Journalism needs a new ethic), I believe that Trinidad is confused about objectivity and the goals of journalism. He states: “With a deeper criticism into objectivity, as it pertains to journalism, objectivity is not real. When I say not real, I don’t mean it is non-existent and unimportant for consideration, but not real in the sense that it is non-empirical. You can’t hold objectivity.” He is correct that objectivity is non-empirical, but so is math. You can’t hold math in your hands but I challenge him to walk into OSU’s engineering department and tell them that math isn’t essential to engineering.
Objectivity in its journalistic usage can be seen in the journalist’s code of ethics, which Trinidad quotes. Journalists must: “examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.” This is the high aim of journalists, one that can never be fully achieved.
While engineers use precision tools to make their work as precise as possible, journalists use the system of peer review to eliminate as much bias as possible. In this system, journalists find and report facts, fighting their own bias as best as they can. Editors with different biases do their best to remove any bias that the journalists have left behind. Just like engineers who create the closest likeness to a mathematical model, journalists try to present the closest thing to objective facts.
Trinidad ends his piece by stating: “Using objectivity as an ethic ultimately is complicit to the status quo and fails to fully challenge view and serve the public.” This is a statement of opinion, pretending to be a fact. Trinidad is trying to spread his own opinion through the vehicle of The Barometer, this is not what an editor should do.
Christian Wagner, Kinesiology major