Should journalists vote? The debate may be “one of the most tedious subjects in journalism,” writes Politico editor John Harris, but it’s one he recently hashed out with two of his colleagues anyway. Mike Allen, the newspaper’s chief political correspondent and a non-voter, kicks things off:
I’m part of a minority school of thought among journalists that we owe it to the people we cover, and to our readers, to remain agnostic about elections, even in private. I figure that if the news media serve as an (imperfect) umpire, neither team wants us taking a few swings.
Harris, an unashamed exerciser of his franchise, responds by disentangling the sacred ideal of journalistic objectivity from everyday fairness.
A journalist can cast votes and have opinions, even strong ones, and still be fair. We do it by letting people have their say, by not putting our thumb on the scale with loaded language, and by having the modesty as reporters to admit that information is always fragmentary and it is our role to tell stories but not to pretend that we are society’s High Court of Truth.