Press Passes At the Ballot Box

| 3/28/2008 9:38:53 AM

I Voted stickerShould 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.

Lisa Gulya

Image by billaday, licensed under Creative Commons.

4/1/2008 8:21:02 AM

The idea of an impartial media does not mean that journalists should not have opinions. The impartiality is supposed to come from refusing let your opinions distort the facts of the story. It is the responsibility of EVERY citizen within a democracy to cast their vote; regardless of race, creed or occupation.

Mary Brace
3/31/2008 11:48:07 AM

That a media person can offer completely lopsided coverage of a campaign, but claim to retain some semblance of impartiality as long as they don't actually vote, donate, or otherwise take part in the democratic process is a farce. Until we're ready to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, it's all a sham, anyway.

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