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On Being Objective
April 22, 2008 - Sunny Day
Spigotz - Does the term newspapers extend to magazines? The distinction between newspapers and magazines has never been complete. Therefore, the distinction must depend upon binding and cover which distinguishes magazines from newspapers. Logically both have evolved from the news sheets of which we spoke in an earlier blog. However, newspapers did come first. More content, sometimes of a less political nature, the size, the style of writing all play a part in defining magazines as a different piece. Of course, we do not want to err on the side of bias, so we must mention that there are some truly polical magazines such as Newsweek and Time Magazine that subscribe to the same (or greater) in-depth reporting as newspapers. Part of MY defining thought is that newspapers present immediate information regarding on-going events - local, national, worldwide; while magazines (usually printed once a month) can expound on similar topics with greater insight due to the amount of time available for them to go to press. Thanks for the interest & the question
Continuing our saga of Newspaper History - Early newspapers in the 1700's and 1800's usually reflected the view of just one person - the publisher. Originally the New York Tribune expressed the opinions of its publisher Horace Greeley - abolitionist, Whig & then Republican. Bennett's Herald supported the Democratic Party. The founder of the New York Daily Times (ancestor of the modern New York Times) became a force in the Republican Party. Many other newspapers sprang into being and promoted their publishers opinions. However, weekly editions of the New York papers were read around the country giving their publisher's opinions added weight.
As larger circulation numbers moved newspapers into the businesses they are today with large staffs and printing equipment, they were seen more and more as providers and good sources of information on many topics. When wire services began to distribute stories to many different papers with many different political views, coupled with the rise of science and realism in literature, the emphasis on personal opinions was greatly reduced.
Facts became an important component of the news story and the "inverted pyramid" style of writing emerged arraying information in order of importance with who, what, when, where and sometimes why placed at the beginning of the story as its "lead". Right about now, journalism was beginning to be regarded as a profession with its own standards.
Ideally, all news reporting should be completely bias free. Realistically, that is not possible - true objectivity is an unrealizable goal; there are too many possible sides to an issue, too many ways of viewing events etc. for everything to be treated fairly. Newspapers have been misused by slanting the perspectives of their readers with the information they provide. However, all news media are responsible for those same biased reporting techniques in bringing information to the public.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century newspapers began to keep their opinions restricted to their editorial and opinion pages and out of their news stories.
Most newspapers strive to provide balanced coverage on political issues, just as they were charged by the first Congress - to provide citizens with information on government and politics.
As we stated in a previous blog - Newspapers bring you more detailed information regarding any story in the news than any other media. We provide you with more than just a “sound bite” of the news and with concise and detailed information without repetition. It doesn’t matter your political or sociological viewpoint, you can find a newspaper that agrees or disagrees with your insight and therefore will reward you with plenty of mental fodder and fortitude.
Newspapers are to be the watchdogs, if you will, to sound the alarm and observe and report the temper of the public and the politicians. We are to make certain that information is available for the public to view and consider in their political decision making process.
Newspapers, by their very nature of in-depth reporting of the facts, are able to help our country remain outstanding in the freedoms we sometimes take for granted, but treasure.
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