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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

About objectivity

A commenter said:
"when have you ever seen a blog here critical of israel" - Never. There was no such a thing and that is the problem with Elder and his objectivity/credibility. Why should someone believe him (considering that he's always pro-israel and will never criticize her) and not those NGOs or mr Goldstone?

I freely admit I am not objective. This is a blog, not a newspaper, and part of my objective is to highlight stories that interest me that would not be seen by people who read the mainstream media or who only casually follow Middle East events. My biases influence my choices of what to post.

Interestingly, newspapers with multi-million dollar budgets also pick and choose which articles to publish, which articles to place on Page 1, and which to bury. They choose which photos to run and which to ignore. They choose how to word the captions and how to write the headlines. These choices are not made objectively, either.

Here's an experiment: In a speech yesterday, Ban Ki Moon yesterday gave a figure for the number of children who die of starvation every day. It is an astonishingly high number. See if that number is in your newspaper today.

It won't be.

Does that mean that this is not newsworthy?

Many NGOs as well are not objective, as I and others have shown rather conclusively. To be fair, Amnesty and HRW are probably more objective than most news media in the sense that they at least cover issues that would get no play at all in the MSM, but they are also biased and have an agenda.

So, we have established that I am not objective. In fact, we have established that no one is objective. In my opinion, it is far worse to pretend to be objective than to be blatantly and openly biased.

However, to say that my information is not credible because I have admitted biases is a much bigger claim, and one I would ask my commenter to back up. I think that in some ways my standards for reporting information accurately is higher than many news outlets and much higher than many editorial pages. I do not have the luxury of an editor or a fact checker before publication, and I am proud of my accuracy and output, given the limited amount of time I have.

I have tackled these topics in the past, see here about news media bias and a more recent post about NGO bias here.