It's difficult to find fair and balanced journalism in today's highly polarized media world, but some self-respecting journalists are trying to keep political agendas out of the nation's newsrooms.
One of those admirable people is Jeffrey McCall, a journalism professor at prestigious DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, which is near Indianapolis.
"Establishment news outlets seem determined to wreck their own profession," McCall wrote recently in "The Hill." "Self-inflicted journalistic disasters surface these days with unnecessary regularity."
McCall, a former journalist, mentioned what he called "a 60 Minutes hatchet job" on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "and "the revelation that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick didn't die of a beating with a fire extinguisher," as reported by the mainstream media.
Did you see any apologies from "60 Minutes" or the mainstream media? Me neither. What's worse, some national media figures, like NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, assert that "fairness is overrated." Yes, really. While receiving a journalism award from Washington State University, Edward R. Murrow's alma mater, Holt told WSU journalism students that "fairness is overrated." Personal note: I graduated from the University of Washington Journalism School in Seattle, where fairness was never overrated.
Holt is wrong because fairness is something every self-respecting journalist should strive for. I'm talking about straight news reporters, not opinion journalists like your favorite Nevada Appeal columnist. I'm an opinion journalist these days, but when I was a reporter in Washington, Oregon and here in Carson with the Associated Press, I tried to be fair and objective.
"Assume that there is at least one other side or version to every story," wrote Jim Lehrer, a respected journalist who anchored the "PBS News Hour" for many years. "Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible, but fairness never is," he added, offering good advice to young journalists.
McCall urged today's reporters "to reflect on Lehrer's insights and think carefully about what fairness is, how to achieve it, and why confidence in journalism won't come back until the public sees it" – fairness, that is. Amen!
The fairness in journalism issue is at the heart of a dispute over whether to hire New York Times essayist/reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones as a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill. She champions the Times' controversial "1619 Project," which teaches that America is a racist country founded on slavery.
Enter Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Publisher Walter Hussman, Jr., a prominent UNC graduate and major contributor to the school's journalism program. He objected to Ms. Hannah-Jones' appointment because of her support for the 1619 Project. "I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC Journalism School to the 1619 Project," Hussman wrote. "Based on her own words, many will assume she's trying to push a (dishonest) agenda," he added.
"The Assembly," a digital magazine published in North Carolina, observed that "Hussman had doubts about whether having her on the faculty would distract from teaching the school's core values," such as fairness and objectivity. Obviously, when journalism schools hire people like Hannah-Jones, they give up all pretense of being fair and objective.
Closer to home, I'd like to put in a word for Jon Ralston's online Nevada Independent, which covers Nevada news accurately and honestly despite Ralston's person politics, which lean to the left. During the recently concluded legislative session, the Indy did some admirable investigative reporting on issues like police reform, school financing and Gov. Sisolak's so-called "innovation zones," even though the governor contributes to the Independent, as I do. Kudos to Ralston for promoting fair and balanced journalism. We need more of that.
Guy W. Farmer has worked in and around journalism for more than 50 years.