From the New York Times
to NPR, many major news organizations have strict policies about how reporters can conduct themselves in relation to the stories they cover. Journalists are discouraged from going to political events, advocating for causes related to the topics they cover, and publicly supporting candidates — all in the name of impartiality and presenting the news as an unbiased observer.
Journalist Lewis Raven Wallace
argues that this thinking is flawed, and even dangerous to democracy, in his book The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity
(University of Chicago Press, 2019). Wallace traces the history of how objectivity became the gold standard in journalism, and looks at examples of people who have bucked the trend along the way.
Wallace advocates for a style of journalism that frees reporters to tell stories without the veil of impartiality while still uncovering the truth and holding those in power accountable. As you’ll hear, this approach is starting to take root in journalism schools and online news outlets created by voices largely excluded from mainstream media.
Wallace is an independent journalist, a co-founder of Press On
, a southern movement journalism collective, and the host of The View from Somewhere podcast
. He previously worked in public radio and is a longtime activist engaged in prison abolition, racial justice, and queer and trans liberation. He is a white transgender person from the Midwest and is now based in North Carolina.
Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State, host of the Democracy Works podcast, produced by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy.