Objectivity is a significant principle of journalistic professionalism.
Objectivity may mean fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship. The term has not only a single meaning, because journalists and the public use it in these different ways. In many countries, advocacy journalism is considered as a legitimate sort of professional journalism.
Few journalists would make a claim to total neutrality or impartiality. However, most try to keep distance from their own personal biases in their news work. In Discovering the News (1978), sociologist Michael Schudson argues that "the belief in objectivity is a faith in 'facts,' a distrust in 'values,' and a commitment to their segregation." In the United States, an objective story is typically considered to be one that steers a middle path between two poles of political rhetoric.
Journalism without any bias, as if one just came to Earth from another planet and had no opinions about our behavior or ways is rarely practiced, although some argue it would lead to radical changes in reporting. (See, for example, Noam Chomsky, The Journalist from Mars.)
- Herman, Edward and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon.
- Mindich, David T. Z. 1998. Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism. New York: New York University Press.
- Schudson, Michael. 1978. Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers. New York: Basic Books.
- Schudson, Michael. 1997. "The Sociology of News Production." In Social Meaning of News: A Text-Reader. Dan Berkowitz, ed. Pp. 7-22. Thousand Oaks: Sage.