A Comparative Analysis: Objective & Public Journalism Techniques

By Holbert, Lance R.; Zubric, Stephen J. | Newspaper Research Journal, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

A Comparative Analysis: Objective & Public Journalism Techniques


Holbert, Lance R., Zubric, Stephen J., Newspaper Research Journal


Labels of elitism and egalitarianism are useless because there are elements of each in both objective and public journalism. Each advocates a different level of constraint on the press.

The past 50 years have witnessed much scholarship and debate regarding the practice of objective journalism.(1) This discussion has been intensified with the advent of public journalism, whose advocates boldly assert that objective journalism is fundamentally flawed.(2) Not surprisingly, much heated debate has emerged in which proponents of either journalistic practice accuse the other of being negligent, misleading or culpable in the erosion of democracy. Of key concern to this paper is the propensity for participants in this debate to talk past one another - to be too quick to judge and dismiss the other practice as intrinsically broken, and thus, something to be immediately recanted and forsaken.

The debate concerning objective and public journalism is flawed because it focuses almost exclusively on the final products of each approach, usually demonstrating how each fail to achieve desired goals.(3) This is because there is no fair and standardized way to compare and contrast the processes of each approach. The study of journalistic practices as techniques overcomes this problem. Analyzing objective and public journalism as techniques affords the opportunity to focus on the means, not simply the end results, of each approach. This is a necessary step in enriching the debate over objective and public journalism. Without this focus, debate will continue to produce more derision than deliberation.

Focus on process

In discussing the impossibility of true objectivity, Denis McQuail asserts that objective journalism is more of "an approach ... than an

Achievement."(4) Jorgen Westerstahl states that "maintaining objectivity in the dissemination of news can ... most easily be defined as adherence to certain norms and standards. It is not a question of basing conclusions on some definition of the inherent nature of objectivity."(5) Each of these scholars has emphasized the need to focus on objective reporting as a process rather than becoming distracted by the philosophical debate over the possibility of true objectivity.

Because public journalism is still very young, there is no single set of procedures which the approach advocates. However, using a series of case studies, some scholars have outlined how different organizations approach the practice of public journalism.(6) Other researchers have gone so far as to outline some common practices (i.e., public forums, public opinion polling, etc.) typical of public journalism projects and some urge the creation of a systematic approach for public journalism.(7) Thus, while each public journalism project is unique, there remain some common practices which are consistently espoused. As a result, public journalism also yields itself to the study of technique.

Study of technique

The study of technique is the study of process. Jacques Ellul states that the study of technique incorporates an examination of means, values and resources.(8) First and foremost, the study of technique allows scholars to focus on the actual practices of any activity.(9) Second, technique examines how value structures dictate the practices of an activity. Finally, although Harold Lasswell alludes to the fact that the study of technique should involve the topic of resources, this study focuses exclusively on means and values.(10)

Focus on means

Ellul asserts that "our civilization is first and foremost a civilization of means ... the means, it would seem, are more important than the end."(11) The means or practices of any activity are nothing more than steps taken to achieve a desired goal. Importantly, focusing on the means of an activity requires an examination of the efficiency of the means. Ellul claims that "technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency" and that techniques are designed to "search for the greatest efficiency. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Comparative Analysis: Objective & Public Journalism Techniques
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.