20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

“Trust me — every person of color in your newsroom has a story about how a manager questioned either their news judgment, their diction, or whether they could be neutral or objective.”

In 2020, news organizations will stop playing the neutrality vs. objectivity game with journalists of color.

Okay, that’s an aspirational declaration — but we have to start somewhere right? Trust me — every person of color in your newsroom has a story about how a manager questioned either their news judgment, their diction, or whether they could be neutral or objective.

I remember the day an old boss questioned out loud whether I’d be able to objectively cover a story about the shooting of a black man by police. This was 2007, before the killing of Tamir Rice and Philando Castile. Before the latest spat of nationwide dialogues and hand-wringing about the disproportionate killings of black and brown people at the hands of police.

This particular news boss wondered about my capacity for objectivity because I am black, and she held a common and misguided idea that I couldn’t be neutral or objective because my skin makes it impossible to see “all sides.” This is a common refrain, one many journalists of color have heard before — and it’s a deeply flawed idea that erodes our efforts to comprehensively cover the communities we serve.

Reporters can’t be objective if they are neutral. Yes, you read that right: Objectivity is not neutrality. Neutrality tries and fails to correct the real biases and prejudices of the journalist, which is impossible to do.

This flawed way of thinking also assumes that white journalists have a neutral point of view. News as we know it was built on this idea — that cultural norms, ideas, and points of view, which have historically come from white journalists, are neutral. But we can see from history that news coverage can be explicitly biased, centering the white experience, and in many cases blatantly racist. Some news organizations, like National Geographic, have begun to examine how racist ideology has shaped their journalism. It’s an attempt to slowly chip away at this larger idea. But the truth is it’ll take real work to break down the systems that have led to the news coverage we see today.

So, as we enter 2020, it’s important that we do the following:

  1. As newsrooms attempt to diversify, we understand and embrace what a diverse newsroom really means for coverage. It means that your news will look and sound different. This will feel foreign at first. Centering other voices and perspectives takes real work; it’s hard and messy. But it’s necessary. Especially if your organization is serious about diversifying.
  2. You must listen to the people of color in your newsroom. Remember, you hired them because they are smart and capable journalists. Let them do their jobs.
  3. Get rid of the idea of “bothsidesism” — and more importantly, false equivalency. Acknowledging the rights and humanity of people is not a “side.” The cost of being neutral is an ill-informed public that is distrustful of what we do.

Here’s to hoping!

Tonya Mosley is co-host of NPR’s midday news show Here & Now.

In 2020, news organizations will stop playing the neutrality vs. objectivity game with journalists of color.

Okay, that’s an aspirational declaration — but we have to start somewhere right? Trust me — every person of color in your newsroom has a story about how a manager questioned either their news judgment, their diction, or whether they could be neutral or objective.

I remember the day an old boss questioned out loud whether I’d be able to objectively cover a story about the shooting of a black man by police. This was 2007, before the killing of Tamir Rice and Philando Castile. Before the latest spat of nationwide dialogues and hand-wringing about the disproportionate killings of black and brown people at the hands of police.

This particular news boss wondered about my capacity for objectivity because I am black, and she held a common and misguided idea that I couldn’t be neutral or objective because my skin makes it impossible to see “all sides.” This is a common refrain, one many journalists of color have heard before — and it’s a deeply flawed idea that erodes our efforts to comprehensively cover the communities we serve.

Reporters can’t be objective if they are neutral. Yes, you read that right: Objectivity is not neutrality. Neutrality tries and fails to correct the real biases and prejudices of the journalist, which is impossible to do.

This flawed way of thinking also assumes that white journalists have a neutral point of view. News as we know it was built on this idea — that cultural norms, ideas, and points of view, which have historically come from white journalists, are neutral. But we can see from history that news coverage can be explicitly biased, centering the white experience, and in many cases blatantly racist. Some news organizations, like National Geographic, have begun to examine how racist ideology has shaped their journalism. It’s an attempt to slowly chip away at this larger idea. But the truth is it’ll take real work to break down the systems that have led to the news coverage we see today.

So, as we enter 2020, it’s important that we do the following:

  1. As newsrooms attempt to diversify, we understand and embrace what a diverse newsroom really means for coverage. It means that your news will look and sound different. This will feel foreign at first. Centering other voices and perspectives takes real work; it’s hard and messy. But it’s necessary. Especially if your organization is serious about diversifying.
  2. You must listen to the people of color in your newsroom. Remember, you hired them because they are smart and capable journalists. Let them do their jobs.
  3. Get rid of the idea of “bothsidesism” — and more importantly, false equivalency. Acknowledging the rights and humanity of people is not a “side.” The cost of being neutral is an ill-informed public that is distrustful of what we do.

Here’s to hoping!

Tonya Mosley is co-host of NPR’s midday news show Here & Now.

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Mario García   Think small (screen)

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Millie Tran   Wicked

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Juleyka Lantigua   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Joshua P. Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Richard Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

J. Siguru Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition