Stop Perpetuating the Myth of 'Objective' Journalism


Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.

In an economic climate where young people are repeatedly told they’re worse off than their parents and a political climate where journalists are regarded with contempt by a large segment of the population, this shit is particularly exhausting.


Evan Smith, the CEO of the Texas Tribune, was reacting to a managing editor at Politico telling staffers at a social media workshop last Friday that the politics site discards “dozens” of potential hires over any social media presence they deem partisan—and that people should avoid harshly criticizing even such things as white supremacy for fear that they will tip into partisanship.

We’re all humans with our own unique, discrete bundle of life experiences, biases, and viewpoints. It’s nothing short of inhumane, in my view, to expect a first-generation Mexican-American journalist who might have undocumented family members to write “objectively” about the Trump administration’s various plans to spend untold billions building a wall, or unleashing a militarized police force to round up immigrants just trying to get to work or school.


I’m also of the view that readers are better served by knowing where a writer stands—even in broad strokes like “progressive” or “left-leaning”—and assessing her work through that lens. Readers are smarter than we give them credit for, mostly.

“Objective” journalism was always a myth; but the stakes used to feel lower. Climate change was always “real,” we as a society just hadn’t (largely) brought the scientific consensus into the norm yet. Making a judgement call about what kind of airtime you give “both sides” of an issue—for example, Splinter isn’t calling up anti-gay groups for comment on stories about LGBTQ rights—is an editorial call that betrays an opinion. Weirdly enough, bloggers who write anti-trans posts at the Daily Caller go on to have reporting jobs at CNN, and New York Times writers who cheered the invasion of Afghanistan can still be found on the Gray Lady’s pages. This too shall pass, as soon as the gatekeepers decide the “debate” around an issue remains active only on the fringes.


But in the meantime, please, judge my Twitter feed harshly.


  • Sen. Ted Cruz’s verified Twitter account liked a porny tweet from the account @SexuallPosts (NSFW link). This is very much not what I wanted to read when I checked Twitter at 3 a.m.
  • Some members of Trump’s legal team decided earlier this summer that Jared Kushner should be ousted as a senior White House adviser over concerns about his ties to Russia. (That obviously didn’t happen.)
  • Key West was battered by Hurricane Irma, a storm which left at least 30 dead, but the six-toed cats that call Ernest Hemingway’s estate there home are safe and sound. More than 60% of Floridians are still without power.
  • Happy pub day to Hillary Clinton!

Managing Editor, Splinter

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