Reasons accuracy and objectivity are fundamental to good journalism

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Accuracy and objectivity are crucial principles of journalism and lie at the heart of journalism’s professional conduct. Both play a vital role in the factuality of the journalistic discourse, as they force journalists to not only ground their reporting on facts but also check whether the presented facts are correct. 

These reflect in the description of the journalistic profession as the discipline of verification and the central relevance of accuracy for instruments of media self-regulation like press councils and codes of ethics. Ultimately, accuracy and objectivity are crucial factors in assessing journalism’s quality.

What is good journalism?

Good journalism is fact-based, unbiased reporting that objectively explores and presents the truth. It involves research, gathering evidence, interviewing sources, asking tough questions and giving a voice to the voiceless. 

Good journalism focuses on accuracy and reliability and utilizes a variety of media formats (e.g., photos, videos, podcasts) to bring a rich and meaningful story to life. Furthermore, good journalism goes beyond simple reporting and aims to inform citizens how to take action and positively impact the world. 

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, good journalism should stay up to date on the latest technological changes to bring a more significant impact when sharing news stories.

Qualities of good journalism

Here are some of the qualities of good journalism:

Ethics and integrity

A good journalist must have a strong sense of ethics. They must strive for impartiality, accuracy and integrity when covering a range of topics — from city hall meetings, to proposed changes in state taxation, to the results of a presidential campaign.

Reporters should refrain from expressing personal views when covering news in newspapers and instead strive to remain impartial. They should also avoid writing about anything perceived as a conflict of interest, such as a family member’s business venture.

Courage and boldness

Good journalists strive to get to the bottom of things, asking hard-hitting questions. They put their personal biases aside and go after the facts, no matter who or what they involve.

It takes courage to delve into the scene of a significant occurrence rather than sitting at a cozy desk in the newsroom and simply phoning in a report. For instance, newspaper reporters may visit the location of hazardous flooding in their area and interview volunteers aiding in the sandbagging of an ineffectual dam.

Expert communication skills

A good journalist must possess outstanding character and exceptional communication skills to write complete stories and interview sources effectively. Good journalists present more comprehensive, thorough coverage of a situation than mere sound bites by providing relevant background information and details that give readers a more nuanced and informed view.

Generally, journalists hold a bachelor’s degree in communication or journalism and have experience linked to their college paper, for example, composing articles for it. They need excellent English grammar, technical writing and citation skills to be a successful journalist and keep their job.

Knowledge of technology

Good journalists utilize social media as part of their job responsibilities to give up-to-date and open reports about current events. They are proficient in using the internet to investigate stories and access public records for investigative reporting.

Technology, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, can reach out to potential sources for obtaining information or setting up an interview. They also leverage technology for swift public notification about issues that could influence health and wellbeing, such as a food recall.

Investigative skills

Good journalists typically possess an analytical frame of mind and construct their stories using evidence and facts rather than emotion. They have a sharp eye and can tell when there is much more to an event than what is said in a press conference. Critical thinking is essential when dealing with different narratives of an event and judging the reliability of the sources.

They use good sense in blogging or posting unconfirmed data on the website while reporting on a current situation. Even when confronted with impending deadlines, good reporters take the time to understand the topic comprehensively.

Why accuracy and objectivity are fundamental to good journalism

Here are the reasons why accuracy and objectivity are fundamental to good journalism:

Promotes credibility

Good journalism seeks accurate, unbiased and objective reporting on all topics. Journalists who strive for these standards build their credibility within and among the public. 

Accuracy and objectivity demonstrate that a journalist is not attempting to use their work to influence public opinion. They should instead use it to accurately report on the facts of a story and provide them in an unbiased format. When the reporting is fair and accurate, the public can trust it is a reliable source of news and information. 

This trust helps promote the credibility of a journalist and the media outlet they report for. It also helps the public’s confidence in the facts they are being provided, which is essential for a free and functioning democracy.

By promoting credibility, journalism ethics are upheld because journalists must convey the truth in every format and provide context to avoid misrepresenting information. In that regard, St. Bonaventure has a program that will help students understand the fundamentals of good journalism, such as promoting credibility. The program will also teach hands-on experience by covering events on the sidelines or from the press row with other media members.

Minimizes misinformation

Good journalism is essential in keeping people informed about current events. As such, accuracy and objectivity are crucial to ensure the presentation of an unbiased and accurate picture of what is happening in the world. 

When there is a compromise in accuracy and objectivity, misinformation can spread quickly, leading to misled public opinion and potentially other unintended consequences. Journalists should strive to present facts objectively and avoid making value and moral judgments to minimize the spread of misinformation. 

Furthermore, journalists should always check their sources and back up their claims with credible evidence. By rigorously adhering to these practices, journalists can better serve their audience by minimizing the spread of inaccurate and potentially harmful information.

Maintains honesty

Maintaining honesty in journalism is critical for the accuracy and objectivity of reports and news stories. Good journalism requires objectivity — statements should focus on independently verifiable facts rather than opinions, biases or sensationalism.

Honesty should permeate every aspect of a journalist’s work and reporting, from gathering information, conducting interviews, selecting sources and editing to writing the story. Journalists must remain genuine and ethical in reporting, citing reliable sources and including multiple perspectives on the story. 

To report honestly means that words must be carefully chosen and written as precisely as possible, without exaggeration or falsehoods. Honesty is essential for good journalism, ensuring readers can trust the results. 

Without accuracy and objectivity, a journalist’s work fails to meet the standard of ethics expected in the industry. Thus, maintaining honesty is necessary for a reporter and should be a core value for all journalists.

Fosters public discourse

Allowing people to engage with and discuss news and current events helps to increase understanding and leads to more informed decisions. Reporters and editors must practice good journalism to present accurate and objective stories. 

It includes rigorous research and fact-checking, obtaining multiple points of view and seeking out independent, reliable sources. In addition, journalists should use appropriate language in stories that convey respect for all parties involved. 

They should avoid sensationalism and hyperbole and provide balanced coverage to help people develop informed opinions. By sticking to these core principles of good journalism, journalists can ensure that their stories are responsible and accurate, leading to meaningful debate from all sides.

Ensures accountability

Accuracy and objectivity are fundamental to good journalism because they ensure accountability. Journalism requires that stories be fact-checked, balanced and unbiased. The media can only provide an impartial account of events and newsworthy items accurately and objectively. Being accurate and objective allows the public to trust the presented information, hold the media accountable for their reporting and make informed decisions based on reliable facts. 

If journalists make inaccurate or biased statements with no basis, their reporting can be misleading and lead to public confusion and mistrust in the media. Ensuring accuracy and objectivity as part of the journalistic process will allow people to be correctly informed and hold the media accountable for their reporting.

Protects reputations

Reputation is one of the most important aspects of any individual or organization. By ensuring accuracy and objectivity in their reporting, journalists can help preserve the credibility of the people and organizations they report on. 

It also ensures that the general public can trust the news they receive, as they know it comes from a reliable and unbiased source. Suppose journalists fail to report accurately and objectively. In that case, the ripple effect will damage both the reputation of the organization and that of the journalist and the news organization itself. 

By upholding accuracy and objectivity, journalists protect the reputation of the people and the profession of journalism overall.

Neutralizes propaganda

Accuracy and objectivity are central principles of good journalism, as it is a practice that hinges on disseminating truthful information to the public as honestly and objectively as possible. Propaganda, or persuasive unverified communication, starkly contrasts this goal. 

By neutralizing propaganda, journalists can ensure that the public receives accurate and trustworthy news. Neutralizing propaganda entails verifying all sources and information, citing reputable sources in reporting, and opening up to multiple perspectives. 

Journalists must also consider the power dynamics in any situation and ensure that everyone is represented fairly and respectfully. By applying these measures, journalists can create accurate and objective stories and positively influence the world.

Empowers audiences

Accuracy and objectivity empower audiences by helping them to trust the information they consume. Accuracy ensures that the audience receives an accurate representation of the facts, and objectivity ensures that the audience gets an unbiased presentation. 

When accuracy and objectivity are present, it can be easier for audiences to distinguish what is true from what is false — for trust and clarity. For example, if a journalist is highly biased or presents facts inaccurately, this can lead an audience that needs to be more informed to be misinformed and potentially deceived. 

Journalists are responsible for ensuring that their reporting is accurate and objective, as this is the best 

way to empower the public to make informed decisions.

Avoids bias

Accuracy and objectivity are fundamental to good journalism because they guarantee a fair and balanced representation of facts and news. Journalists should avoid bias at all costs to ensure accuracy and objectivity. 

Bias is an inclination or preference for a particular viewpoint or opinion, which can lead to reporting misleading information. The goal of accurate and objective journalism should be to provide unbiased, comprehensive content solely focused on relaying the facts. 

It is achievable by researching and verifying critical pieces of information, double-checking facts, and ensuring the representation of multiple perspectives or opinions. By avoiding bias, a journalist can ensure the accuracy and impartiality of the information they provide, thereby maintaining a high standard of journalism.

Creates mutual understanding

Accuracy and objectivity encourage mutual understanding between journalists, sources and the public. The public presentation could be false if the journalist does not take the time to be accurate and objective. 

A lack of these qualities can prevent or reduce the trust that the public and the sources have in the journalist. The public will not be confident in the journalist’s work and will not take the time to engage with the message. 

Therefore, accuracy and objectivity are vital to ensuring the journalist’s message is believable and trustworthy so the public feels comfortable engaging. They allow the public to understand the reported issues in greater detail and provide a platform to discuss the topics meaningfully.

Minimizes confusion

By utilizing accuracy and objectivity, journalists not only ensure reporting of reliable and unbiased news, but they can also minimize confusion. Accurate journalism ensures that the information presented is unbiased and truthful. 

Objectivity in reporting ensures fairness by providing unbiased information without letting underlying personal beliefs or values influence the reporting. It allows the public to make informed decisions. 

However, if journalists report events or facts inaccurately, it can lead to mistrust of the media and even cause upheaval as conflicting stories or facts emerge. 

Thus, accuracy and objectivity are essential for good journalism that is reliable and clear, leading to a more informed, educated and engaged public.

Prevents censorship

Without accuracy and objectivity, news stories become distorted and fail to portray the truth accurately. Censorship can be a significant obstacle in delivering accurate and objective journalism. It can involve suppressing specific ideas or topics in a way that does not represent how events unfolded. Censorship can lead to the general public needing to be more informed. 

Journalists must remain objective and accurate to prevent the distortion of facts and ensure the accuracy of news stories. Proper preventive measures can be enacted to protect journalists from censorship that could threaten the accuracy of news stories. 

Furthermore, journalists should aim to challenge any form of censorship and work towards restoring objectivity in their stories. Doing so makes it possible to deliver accurate and objective journalism and keep the public informed of the truth.

Aids investigative journalism

Investigative journalism is a type of journalism that focuses on uncovering information about issues not easily found or available through traditional avenues. It is a form of reporting that relies heavily on accuracy and objectivity to tell the truth unbiasedly. 

Investigative journalism requires journalists to research and cross-check various sources and evidence for accuracy. Researching multiple sources ensures that the information reported is thorough, well-rounded and impartial. 

Objectivity is also crucial because it allows journalists to remain unbiased throughout their reporting. It eliminates any sort of bias which could occur from the journalist’s own opinions or beliefs. By remaining impartial, the news can remain unaltered and unbiased.

Overall, accuracy and objectivity are essential for investigative journalism, as, with these two traits, information reported may be reliable and manipulated. It may lead to distorting the truth, leaving the audience needing help understanding the story entirely. 

Strengthens democracy

By reporting accurately and objectively, journalists guarantee that people can trust the information they receive and make informed decisions about issues. It reinforces democracy in society, as people can express their views without pressure or influence by skewed media coverage.

Furthermore, when it comes to matters of public policy, accuracy and objectivity enable citizens to evaluate the decisions of their governing body and develop more informed opinions on the issues. Accessible and fair media coverage allows voters to make informed decisions about the candidates and policies they support. 

Therefore, accuracy and objectivity ensure citizens trust the information they receive and make informed decisions — strengthening democracy.

Final thoughts

Good journalism is essential for providing accurate and unbiased news to the public. To do this, accuracy and objectivity must be fundamental to any journalist’s practice. 

It involves conducting thorough research and fact-checking, presenting both sides of a story, and asking difficult questions without expressing an opinion. News outlets must also actively hold themselves accountable and correct mistakes. 

Ensuring stories and news sources can be trusted to be accurate and objective maintains the journalistic profession. Doing so helps ensure that reporting news is truthful and fair, allowing the public to make informed decisions.