Objectivity (May 27 & 29)
This section of the course considers the idea of journalistic bias and covers four
classes. Before we talk about bias, it is useful to begin with a look at what is meant by
the term journalistic objectivity. Here is the plan for the two class sessions:
1. We’ll begin with a look at Control Room, a documentary about how Al Jazeera (a
satellite TV network from Qatar) covered the Iraq War in 2003. It is an excellent
documentary that demonstrates the tensions and challenges news organizations
face when they cover contentious political events, such as war.
2. After the viewing, we will situate the documentary within a broader context by
talking about how conceptions of “objectivity” differ from news culture to news
3. This will be followed by an exploration of different types of political journalism.
4. There will be a quiz at the end of class on May 29.
Here is a table you will need to refer to:
Table 1: Journalists’ conceptions of objectivity
Which statement comes closest to your Britain Germany Italy Sweden US
understanding of the term objectivity?
An equally through question of the
position of each side in a political dispute21 19 11 7 10
Going beyond the statements of the
contending sides to the hard facts of a 28 42 30