chapter  12
Race and Objectivity: Toward a Critical Approach to News Consumption
Pages 20

Objectivity is a false god. We are human beings and we screw up or have fl aws that are hidden from us. But fairness and balance are possible. Not stereotyping people we write about is possible. We can be skeptical without being cynical …

(Ken Auletta, New Yorker columnist, 2010 , n.p.)

To the average American journalist, following the hallowed tenet of objectivity in news reporting is as much a priority as making sure every fact is correct. Impartiality and detachment from news stories are taught as the ultimate goals of good news reporting. But with the history of American journalism filled with examples of disturbing representations of people and communities of color and the use of stereotypes and more subtle myths reflected in routine coverage by local television journalists, this foundational principle of journalism is weakening in stature and is possibly an unrealistic and ineffectual achievement in the practice of journalism. In this past decade alone, national coverage of stories with a racial angle like Hurricane Katrina, the Don Imus controversy, Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy and even the Virginia Tech shootings, have provided unique opportunities for journalists to add interpretation, clarification and insight into stories that have sparked national dialogues about race.