Objectivity, neutrality, impartiality and balance

Notes to accompany the Exeter Observer community journalism training course.

Normative vs descriptive approaches

NB objectivity, neutrality, impartiality and balance are not the same as accuracy and clarity

Prominent positions on “good” journalism

(Recap of assignment ethics reading)

  1. Cynical

    • media ethics = oxymoron
    • journalist as hack
    • Nietzschean amoralism
    • sales are all that matter = let the market decide
    • don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story
  2. Individual/ad hoc responsibility

    • ethical relativism
    • codes are pointless, impractical and irresponsible
  3. Professional

    • independent free press vs state-controlled propaganda - personal liberty, freedom of expression
    • fourth estate inc. adversarial state vs media, campaigning
    • objectivity, neutrality, impartiality and balance = search for truth in the face of subjective anarchy and propagandist bias = sources balanced, fact not fiction, no value judgements
    • truthfulness - resistance to postmodern relativism
    • social responsibility and public interest - civic journalism aimed at revitalising public sphere
    • promotion of pluralism as mirror to society
    • codes of conduct/practice
    • value of training :-)

Critical responses

plus observations in hyperlocal journalism reading …

More course notes

Recent stories
Exeter City Council accounts delayed by auditors Grant Thornton

Feature  /  Democracy & governance

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's "lack of staff resources"

Annual accounts for local government, including Exeter City Council, have been delayed by private sector firms failing to complete their work on time after cost-cutting government auditing reforms.

Read more ...

2019 parliamentary elections - Devon Conservative vote share change bar chart

Analysis  /  Democracy & governance

Conservative vote share varies across Devon but still blocks an Independent MP in East Devon

Labour loses vote share in every constituency, but retains Exeter and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport to leave the county position unchanged from 2017.

Read more ...

Exeter election polling station

News  /  Democracy & governance

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

A by-election held on general election day produced an unusually high turnout but a lower Conservative vote share than at the May local elections.

Read more ...

East Devon Independent Claire Wright 2019 general election candidate

Feature  /  Democracy & governance

East Devon Independent Claire Wright set to unite Remain voters in close historic two-way contest

Claire Wright is poised to make history by beating the Tories in East Devon next week. If she does it will be without thanks to the LibDems and Greens, who insisted on standing candidates against her despite the preferences of local party members and the Unite to Remain campaign.

Read more ...

Striking University of Exeter history lecturers Dr Jennifer Farrell and Dr Gemma Clark

News  /  Education & skills

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in a national eight day strike for fair pay and pensions, including equal pay for female and BAME staff, and against casualisation and increasing workloads.

Read more ...