Post Classifieds

Tell me lies, sweet little lies

By Lizzie Glaser
On February 14, 2012

Whether it's to your boyfriend or your mom, the truth is almost

always preferred. But me, I like to mix it up a bit, and when it comes to reporting, please, tell me lies.

I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent in the past two years editing articles for this paper—reading and re-reading them several times, eliminating flowery adverbs or adjectives, replacing any hints of emotion

with the word "said" and removing all indications

of personal opinion—all in search of the elusive "objectivity."

We have all been raised in an era of news reporting that glorifies "objectivity," by which I mean fair, unbiased, factual and independent reporting—aka the "cold, hard facts." And yet the concept still eludes me. How is it possible for any reporter (regardless of his or her ethical aims to be objective) to entirely remove all personal interests from an article? Even if the article

is not ridden with suggestive, ethos-driven connotations, the reporter

still selects which sources to interview, which information to include and how to structure the article to best convey his or her intended meaning.

And if individual journalists struggle to separate subjective or personal interests from objective

"fact-telling", don't editors as well? Even in the position of editor, how can I truly separate myself from the cognitions and values that I, as an individual, impose

on the external world? What is important to a reporter to include in an article may not seem as important to an editor, and if the article is too long, those facts will get cut, ultimately changing the article, sometimes so drastically

as to alter its entire meaning. An article can never be independent

and accurately factual when the original work is altered through this behind the scenes editing process. The intended audience (the public) never sees the article in its original form.

And then of course, there's that short old adage that holds just as true in journalism as in corporate America: money makes the world go ‘round. How can journalists and editors detach themselves entirely from the influences of the advertisers that are paying the bills? Even if stories

do not deal directly with various

companies, advertisers can pull or enhance funding based on what type of stories are published.

Thus, media outlets cannot ever be entirely fair and unbiased because they are inherently influenced by the companies with the deepest pockets. Put simply, because of journalistic, editorial and commercial interests,

the public never gets the truth anyways.

But all hope is not lost. I'm a firm believer in journalistic integrity

and the idea that, because the media are the primary sources from which the public receives information, journalists have a responsibility to provide information

that is not only accurate but relevant to their audiences. And let's be real, how many people read the New York Times and then flip to the Wall Street Journal? If we won't take the responsibility to properly inform ourselves as public actors, then somebody has to.

So I propose a new concept of objectivity that, rather than sticking to the "cold, hard facts" integrates limited levels of subjectivity

into reporting

that allow journalists, editors

and advertisers

to present the public with the information that is most useful

and relevant to their daily lives. Instead of directing energy towards ensuring

an impartial report, journalists

should utilize their partiality to form comprehensive

reports that can be directly applied to public life.

If we begin to view objectivity not as a stark retelling of the facts, but as an interpretation of them, employing various journalistic tools to convey specific messages, we can begin to present our audiences with information that is more accurate and more relevant

to their lives. I don't care if Jessica Simpson is pregnant or what Beyoncé named her baby. But if there's a robbery two blocks from my house or a new restaurant is opening on campus, I'd like to hear about it.

I'm not asking journalists to lie to me. I'm asking

them to use the facts that they gather to create an interpretation and message that contains information

that is relevant to my life. Those interpretations are bound to be more productive and useful

to me than some truths out there anyway. (Reference: Snapple cap fact number 15: All porcupines can float in water. Not useful

unless I'm trying to drown a porcupine.) So, if reporting relevant information is lying because it's not "objective", then please, tell me lies. Tell me sweet, little lies.


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