PHILOS 2TT3 Lecture Notes - Yellow Journalism, Pragmatism, Individualism
The Understanding of Truth Changes Over Time:
- Ancient Greece: what we remember through song and poetry – oral truth
- Plato: what is true is somehow linked to rationality and intellect, not knowable by
experience (allegory of the cave exemplifies the fallacies of experience when it
comes to knowing truth).
- Medieval Times: what God or the King says
- Enlightenment: what is verifiable, replicable, universal – cast in secular terms,
corresponding to external facts. The basis of the ideal of objectivity in journalism.
- Pragmatism: depends on individual perception and context.
Standard of Objectivity in the Early 1900s
- Press becomes less partisan to appeal to broader audience and advertisers
o Because support is gained through political advertising
- Reaction to the 1890s “yellow journalism” which used sensationalism and
fabrication to increase circulation
o Opinion relegated to specific pages, fact to others.
- Philosophical foundations in Enlightenment view of truth
- Changing notion of truth – is there an objective truth?
o Pragmaticism indicates not, as the truth becomes relevant to who researches
- Technological advances and explosion of information
- Creators and reporters of news not representative of audience.
o Papers and media are partisan nowadays
o Mainstream media, majority of news is reported by white, upper class and
News Reflects Cultural Values
- News stories at Newsweek and CBS reflect certain values (Herbert Gands)
o Altruistic democracy
o Responsible capitalism
o Need for social order
Telling a “Good Story”
- Highlight drama and human interest
- Look for event
- Video determines story selection and placement
- Get story first
- What gets left out?
Means to An End:
- Is it ethical to lie to get a story?
- Omission vs. commission
- Informing the public at any cost.
(Suggested) Ethical news values