ARTICLE: New objectivity, from impartiality to fairness

Instead of impartiality, objectivity in journalism should be measured through “fairness”, argues Sandrine Boudana, of Tel Aviv University. The author presents a detailed and historically connected critique of impartiality, and presents an alternative. By re-establishing what is meant by “objectivity”, its use as a measure of journalistic quality can continue, Boudana writes.

By early 20th century objectivity had become interpreted as “impartiality”, which to Boudana is a flawed concept. She cites, for example, the false balance problem: the misplacement of a supposed, truthful middle ground between extremes. Instead, journalists should strive for fairness, which the author defines as universal application of moral judgment. In other words, journalists are allowed to, and indeed should, take a stand, but only in a consistent and thoroughly explained manner.

Boudana’s critique was published as an online-first article of the journal Journalism. It can be accessed here (abstract public).

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