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February 1993


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Mark POINDEXTER <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 21 Feb 1993 15:42:34 EST
text/plain (44 lines)
Following upon the comment that "objectivity" may be somehwat "thrown out"
in today's journalism:
I would agree if we are talking about journalism departments, schools or
scholars, but it seems to me to be much alive among workining journalists,
readers/viewers and the business folk who do much of the hiring.
I agree with your comment about context.  Sometimes it can be taken for granted
that the contexts for viewers/readers/listeners will be fairly similar and per-
haps not far rempoved from the context of the teller and those about whom the
story is told.   Other times the gap is very great.  The greater the gap the
more conscious the journalist becomes of it and the more the question of
"whose context" is to dominate (or how different contexts are to be acknow-
ledged) demands an answer. I'd like  also to see the gap recognized when it is
relatively small and does not demand recognition, as well as when it is large.
I tend to see the journalist/etc. as taking the context of the receiver into
account in order to acquaint the receiver with the different context of the
I may be a bit awkward in expressing this, because I have been trying to look
at the whole problem from a little different perspective recently than I did
when I was a working journlalist.  I have been thinking about the implications
about beginning with the ethical question of how one can best serve one's
audience AND subject without turning either of them into MEANS TO AN END.
I am adopting Fromm's concept of ethics here (which is why I wrote earlier
of a "humanistic" journalism). To me a humanistic journalism would
avoid reducing audiences to "markets" and subjects to sort of
interchangeable parts that are constructed in some predetermined way (often
sanctioned by the term "professionalism", badly defined too often as the
skillful application of a formula to produce a predictable and dependable
I think those who make documentary film have probably done more along the
lines I am advocating to redefine journalism than has been done in daily
practice, especially in radio and TV, where most of what I hear and see seems
formulaic and where practitioners seem more likely to wave the banner
of objectivity.
This may sound picky, but rather than redefining journalism, I'd like to
start with defining the position of the journalist vis a vis subject and
audience within a humanistic ethical framework. The question of what journalism
is comes next.  What it is then can be defined in terms of what one expects it
to do.