What is the Objective Reporting in Journalism?
Reporting should be an impersonal job. A reporter should essentially be a story teller. He should tell the story in an objective and truthful manner, without lacing it with any personal opinions or comments. He should be fair and impartial in presenting the story. Some argue that to achieve complete objectivity is not possible.
Complete objectivity is a mere concept. Their argument is that the reporter is a human being and he has certain ideas, feelings, attitudes, opinions and prejudices and that will definitely reflected in the news story.
A good reporter however should try to rise above all of them and tell the facts as he has collected them in his search for truth. A reporter should be responsible in his presentation. No responsible reporter would behave like the notorious American journalist, Janet Cooke, who won the prestigious Pulitzer prize in 1980 for a story about drugs which was later proved to be fictional. The reporter committed a fraud by dramatist a fake scene in which an eight year old boy was injected with heroin supplied by the lover of the boy’s mother.
A national daily carried on its front page that there was a “mass rape” at a students function in a Madhya Pradesh town which was found later on to be baseless. After the report appeared on the front page of the newspaper it caused a sensation. The Editor asked a reporter to investigate. The reporter first questioned the reporter of the news item, who insisted that the mass rape had happened.
To corroborate he produced a number of eye witnesses. However, when they were cross-examined and asked specifically to reveal only what they had seen, they baffled and the investigator soon realized that the reporter had written the story on the basis of a gossip and filed it without verifying the facts.
The fact was during a function to celebrate the annual day of a local college, a portion of the shamiana came down, the electricity got cut off and a few students entered the women’s enclosure and molested some of the girls. Reporter must remember that facts are sacred.
He must check and cross-check the facts from different sources until he is absolutely sure of them. Only then he should write the story. The golden rule of reporting is tell the truth of course, objective reporting is not synonymous with dullness. It means fair and impartial reporting that is free from personal bias or prejudice.