Friday, 19 December 2014

The trouble with 'objective' journalism

'It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.' - Hunter S Thompson, 'He Was a Crook'

Still thinking about something I saw on the news on Monday night. A journalist was interviewing people for vox pops in Great Yarmouth after Labour's immigration announcement. One of the people he interviewed said 'I don't complain about the immigrants taking the jobs because a lot of the locals won't do the jobs. But it's these benefits they get - free cars, free houses...'
Immigrants don't get free cars.
Immigrants don't get free houses.
This is generally known, by people who've looked into it - such as journalists. We know this stuff about free cars and houses is made-up - and, in the case of the free cars thing, we can specifically trace it to a bullshit column from professional opinion-haver Carol Malone, back in 2009.
But the journalist didn't correct this woman - even though what she said was demonstrably untrue - because that might have been thought 'biased'. This is where so-called 'objective' journalism lets us all down: because people watching that programme will have seen these words about free cars and free houses go unchallenged, and will think 'well, it must be true - someone said it on the news'.
It's especially annoying that this was the Channel 4 News; if their reporters can take it on themselves to confront a hipster doofus over the cost of his overpriced Lucky Charms, you would think they would also be willing to call someone out for spreading this poisonous, racist 'free cars' bullshit. 
You would think so, but you would, it seems, be wrong.

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