In any journalism school, you are always told that being objective and non-partisan is what makes you a good journalist. Once you graduate and start working, it’s the same thing. Objectivity is considered sacred in journalism.
But honestly, can objectivity ever exist in anything we do, much less in journalism? In reality, journalists can only strive to be as objective as possible; or here’s a much better phrase – strive their best to portray themselves and their stories as objectively as possible.
Naturally, as human beings, we are already subjective and partisan in our thoughts. It’s just a human trait that enables us to survive. And everyone is affected by economic, political and social elements that surround us in our everyday environment.
I am a journalist and I did (eventually) go to journalism school and I have always declared myself to be non-objective and partisan. Yes, you could even say that I am a biased journalist. But one thing is for sure, at least I am an honest journalist.
I am of the opinion that you can be biased in journalism because that is what freedom of speech guarantees. But you cannot be a dishonest journalist. A journalist can persuade people but not through lying, fabricating facts and evidence or hide facts.
So I was particularly interested when I heard that veteran journalist and professor John Dinges from the United States was going to be in town as part of the Cooler Lumpur Festival 2016 to talk about the role of journalism in serving democracy.
According to Dinges, journalists and the news media need to always maintain objectivity because they are the ones entrusted with the responsibility of being the watchdogs for the public. They provide the right information for the people to make the right choices.