Objective Reporting in the Media: Phantom Rather than Panacea



Journalism historians researching the developments in North America have tied the emergence of objectivity to the decline in party journalism, beginning in the 1830s, when the commercial penny papers combined advanced print technology with a street-sale distribution system as a way of expanding and cultivating a new public. Massive economic and political changes in the 1830s were expressively integrated into the form and content of the penny press, which both drew upon and strengthened the culture of a democratic market society. The cheap commercial papers asserted their independence from party politics and emphasized their reliance on news from any and all social spheres. The penny press could offer, so it claimed, a more dependable and authentic journalism: news untainted by the political, social, and economic values that for so long had defined the content of the daily papers. The belief that knowledge, like property, should not be monopolized for exclusive use by private interests was expressed in the penny papers as a positive commitment to cheap, value-free information – to objective fact.2


Medium Ethic Free Speech Hate Speech Good Story Objective Reporting 
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© Raphael Cohen-Almagor 2001

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