“The touchstone of our sanity”

Discussing objectivity in journalism using interdisciplinary elements


  • Joseph Gibbs


Journalism, Journalistic Objectivity


Objectivity is a contentious topic in journalism, important to address in a newswriting classroom because of the profession’s mission of representing reality. While often discussed within the discipline, other fields also provide examples of definitions and observations that may help journalism educators find additional ways to approach the subject. They also offer the potential for introducing relevant, related topics along the way.


Download data is not yet available.


Al-Najjar, A. (2011). Contesting Patriotism and Global Journalism Ethics in Arab Journalism, Journalism Studies 12 (6), 747-756.
Berenger, R.D. (2005). Al Jazeera: In Pursuit of ‘Contextual Objectivity,’ Transnational Broadcasting Studies 14, retrieved from http://www.tbsjournal.com/ReviewsBerenger.html.
Berenger, R.D., & M. Taha. (2013). Contextual Ethics and Arab Mass Media in Stephen Ward (Ed.), Global Media Ethics: Problems and Perspectives (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell), 89-109.
Bishop, R. (1996). Postmodernism, in Levinson and Ember, (eds. vol. iii), 993-998.
Bruni, F. (2014). Full Screed Ahead, New York Times, June 1, SR3 (New York edition).
Derkson, L., & J. Gartrell. (1992). Scientific Explanation, in E.F. Borgatta and M.L. Borgatta, eds., Encyclopedia of Sociology, (vol. iv). New York: Simon and Schuster/MacMillan, 1715-1719.
Campbell, V. (2004). Information Age Journalism: Journalism in an International Context. London: Arnold.
Carr, E.H. (1961). What is History? New York: Vintage.
Chinni, D. (2004). Press ‘Fairness’ in Politics, syndicated Christian Science Monitor column in Dubai Gulf News, (Sept. 29, 9).
Cohen, A. (2012). John Silber, Longtime Foe of False Equivalence, retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/09/john-silber-longtime-foe-of-false-equivalence/262992/.
Corrigan, D. (1999). The Public Journalism Movement in America. London: Praeger.
Dennis, E., & J.C. Merrill. (2006), Media Debates: Great Issues for the Digital Age,( 4th ed.) London: Thomson.
Dennis, E., &W. Rivers. (2011). Other Voices: The New Journalism in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Elton, G.R. (2002). The Practice of History, (2nd ed.) Oxford: Blackwell.
El-Nawawy, M., & A. Iskandar (2002). Al Jazeera. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.
El-Nawawy, M., & A. Iskandar (2004). Al Jazeera and War Coverage in Iraq: The Media’s Quest for Contextual Objectivity, In S. Allan and B. Zelizer, Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. London: Routledge, 315-332.
Fallows, J. (2013). False Equivalence: Where It Came From, retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/false-equivalence-where-it-came-from/274082/.
Fournier, R. (2013). False Purists and Their False Equivalence Dodge, retrieved from http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/false-purists-and-their-false-equivalence-dodge-20131009.
Foreman, G. (2010). The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News. Oxford: Wiley and Son.
Foreman, V. (2012). Journalism as a Social Science: How Data Makes A Difference, retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/polis/2012/07/09/journalism-as-a-social-science-how-data-makes-a-difference-guest-blog/.
Friedman, T.L. (2014). Obama on the World, International New York Times, Aug. 11, 8.
Goodwin, M. (2004). When the Chips are Down, Media Show Bias, syndicated Knight Ridder Tribune Service column in the Oman Tribune, Sept. 14, 6.
Groseclose, T. (2011). Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. New York: St. Martin’s.
Halberstam, D. (2000). The Powers That Be. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois.
Harb, Z. (2008). Covering the Qana ‘Massacre’ 1996: A Case of Contextual Objectivity, Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 1, 138-155.
Harper, J., & T. Yantek (Eds.) (2003). Media, Profit and Politics: Competing Priorities in an Open Society. London: Kent State.
Higgins, M., & A. Smith (2011). Not One of U.S.: Kate Adie’s Report of the 1986 US Bombing of Tripoli and its Critical Aftermath, Journalism Studies 12 (3), 344-358.
Hundleby, C. (2009). Silence and the Limitations of Contextual Objectivity, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 11 (2), 254-267.
Kolodny, N. (2006). Objectivity in Ethics, in D.M. Borchert,(Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy London: Thompson Gale, (vol. vii), 3-7.
Kayode, J. (2011). Journalism Ethics in Nigeria, in L. Oso and U. Pate, eds., Mass Media and Society in Nigeria Lagos: Malthouse, 141-155.
Kovach, B., & T. Rosenstiel (2001). The Elements of Journalism. New York: Three Rivers.
Larsson, L., & S.A. Nohrstedt (2002). Does Public Relations Make a Difference? A Comparative Analysis of Two Major Swedish Crises, in D. Moss and B. DeSanto, eds., Public Relations Cases: International Perspectives (London: Routledge), 113-129.
Lett, J. (1996) Scientific Anthropology, in Levinson and Ember, (vol. iv), 1141-1148.
Levinson, D., & M. Ember, (Eds.) (1996). The Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, (4 vols). New York: Henry Holt and Co.
Lippmann, W. (2010). Liberty and the News Mineola, NY: Dover.
Lippmann, W. (1961). Public Opinion. New York: MacMillan.
McChesney, R.W., & J. Nichols (2010). The Death and Life of American Journalism. Philadelphia: Perseus.
McChesney, R.W., & V. Pickard, (Eds.). (2011). Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done to Fix It. London: New Press.
Mellor, N. (2005). The Making of Arab News. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.), (1997). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc.
Merrill, J.C. (1997). Journalism Ethics: Philosophical Foundations for News Media New York: St. Martin’s.
Mill, J.S. (1978), On Liberty, E. Rapaport, (ed.), Indianapolis: Hackett.
Montopoli, B. (2004). Falling Over Backward Seeking Balance, retrieved from http://www.cjr.org/politics/falling_over_backward_seeking.php.
Muhlman, G. (2008). A Political History of Journalism, translated by J. Birrell Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Nabi, A. (1989). Sociology of News [in Arabic] Cairo: Al Arabi Books, as cited in Mellor, 2005.
O’Shea, J. (2011). The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers New York: Public Affairs.
Pfeffer, J., & R.I. Sutton (2006). Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense. Boston: Harvard Business Press.
Poniewozik, J. (2013). Not ‘Both Sides,’ Now: Why False Equivalence Matters in the Shutdown Showdown, retrieved from http://entertainment.time.com/2013/10/07/not-both-sides-now-why-false-equivalence-matters-in-the-shutdown-showdown/.
Proudfoot, M. & A.R. Lacey (2012). The Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy, (4th ed.), London: Routledge.
Rogers, S. (2014). Why Data Reporters Should Ask Themselves the Five Ws of Journalism, retrieved from http://ijnet.org/en/blog/why-data-reporters-should-ask-themselves-five-ws-journalism.
Shaw, D. (2004). This Just In: Many Americans Prefer Their News Biased and Entertaining, syndicated Los Angeles Times column appearing in the Cape Cod Times, July 18, E-1.
Sullivan, M. (2013). When Reporters Get Personal, The New York Times, Jan. 6, p. SR12. New York edition.
Tuchman, G. (1972). Objectivity As Strategic Ritual: An Examination Of Newsmen’s Notions of Objectivity, American Journal of Sociology, 77:4 (Jan. 1972), 660-79.
Taflinger, R.F., (1996). The Myth of Objectivity in Journalism: A Commentary, retrieved from http://public.wsu.edu/~taflinge/mythobj.html.
Underwood, D. (1995). When MBAs Rule the Newsroom New York: Columbia University Press.
Webb, J. (2012). What Happened to America’s Community Spirit? retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19667384.

Additional Files

How to Cite

Gibbs , J. . (2015). “The touchstone of our sanity”: Discussing objectivity in journalism using interdisciplinary elements. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 3(2), 47–57. Retrieved from https://www.ojed.org/index.php/jise/article/view/1473