Truth in Journalism through Diversity. Affirmative Action Required.
CONTROVERSY: Are Main Stream Media (MSM***) achieving truth in journalism in the political/ideological arena?
RESOLUTION: Representational political diversity at all levels of the news organization is a necessary condition for achieving truth in journalism. MSM should embrace this principle, develop supporting metrics and engage affirmative action hiring practices as required.
SUPPORTING CLAIMS: The best journalistic standards encourage objectivity not advocacy in reporting as a means to achieve the goal of truth in journalism. Objectivity is approachable but not achievable* hence it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving this goal. A diversity of interacting viewpoints is necessary to compensate** for our human limitations with respect to objectivity. MSM has not publicly embraced the need for political diversity. Furthermore, a strong case can be made that MSM is politically monolithic rather than diverse. This failure is a major contributing factor to the controversy over truth in journalism. Action by MSM is required to address this controversy.
*not achievable* : Cognitive science teaches us that human perceptions are formed within cognitive frameworks, yes even for journalists. An individual might approach objectivity by attempting to apply alternative conceptual frameworks, but can never achieve it because there is always a fundamental point of view that cannot be transcended.
**compensate** : Examples of misstatements by journalists are documented all over the Internet as well as in the MSM itself. Misstatements survive unchallenged and are confirmed because of "group think". Diverse staff interacting on the same story will tend to catch and challenge unsupportable claims and characterizations. Diverse non-interacting staff will provide the public a view from a non-monolithic perspective. Examples of story lines and themes arising from the unconscious sympathy felt toward one party and the antipathy felt toward the other party are also easy to find. Diversity compensates by quantitatively balancing these out. When unbalanced, the MSM inevitably inappropriately prejudices the public debate.
***MSM*** : Regarding use of MSM: The controversy is actually relevant only for those MSM who claim that truth in journalism is their goal. For some, like Public Broadcast Media, which accept support from CPB, it is actually an obligation. For some, like TV Broadcast Media, it is traditionally held to be an obligation. For some, it is their choice but not obligatory. For others (advocacy journalism), it is not even their choice. There appears to be no convenient language for referring to the relevant subset of MSM subscribing to this objective, so unqualified references to MSM in the context of this controversy are assumed to imply reference only to those committed to the goal of truth in journalism.
CIVIL ARGUMENTATION is encouraged in this forum in order examine the validity of this resolution or even hatch others. It is hoped that a constructive dialogue will be useful in developing a practical resolution that allows the MSM to put this controversy to rest. For a guide to civil dialogue I highly recommend: David Zarefsky: Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning.