Coastsider isn’t always objective, but it does have principles


Posted by on Mon, January 31, 2005

Coastsider is not entirely objective. It’s mostly written and edited by a single person—and I have a point of view. One reason I started Coastsider was that I didn’t think my point of view was getting enough attention in the local media. And I knew like-minded people were looking for an alternative. The challenge is that it’s impossible to separate my roles as reporter, editor, publisher, and citizen.

One thing I’ve done to signal that I am writing as an individual is to write many news stories in the first person. I want you to understand that there is a person behind the stories you see here, and that he probably has an opinion about what’s being said.

The age of objectivity in journalism is over, according to Dan Gillmor, former the computer industry columnist for the Mercury News. Last month, Gillmor quit one of the best jobs in technology journalism to start a venture in grassroots journalism.

Dan has written an excellent piece on his blog called The End of Objectivity.

Objectivity is a construct of recent times. One reason for its rise in the journalism sphere has been the consolidation of newspapers and television into monopolies and oligopolies in the past half-century. If one voice overwhelms all the others, there is a public interest in playing stories as straight as possible—not favoring one side over the other (or others, to be more precise, as there are rarely just two sides to any issue).

This idea isn’t new. It has been circulating among journalists for years. Dan has done a good job of crystalizing the thinking behind it, and suggests replacing (or at least leavening) objectivity with four other journalistic values:

  • Thoroughness: Do your research.
  • Accuracy: Get the facts right.
  • Fairness: Give everyone a chance to speak, but don’t necessarily accept every assertion as equally valid.
  • Transparency: Make your conflicts clear and open your sources for inspection.

Those are good values and I strive for for them every day. I think I get it right most of the time. You have a right to expect thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, and transparency from Coastsider—and from the mainstream media as well.

You should hold me to these values. If you think I’ve slipped, let me know. You can send me a private email or correct me in a comment attached to any story.