Part 1 of 2
One of the great deceptions of our time is the idea that there is, or has ever been, objectivity in journalism. Granted there are some naïve, young journalists who enter the field aiming to remain neutral and objective in all aspects. But those altruistic motives are quickly co-opted, often without the journalist even realizing it, by the propaganda from the sources covered, by management, by funders (advertisers), by conventional wisdom and by the herd mentality.
So “objective media” is really just code word for the agenda of the state. Today, all national mainstream media are controlled by six mega-corporations. Here is a graphic that shows the incestuous relationship of the corporate media.
There has never been an objective media in the U.S., and it’s doubtful there has ever been one in the history of the world. During the Revolutionary War, there were newspapers supporting and newspapers opposing the revolution that printed either “facts” or “propaganda” depending upon which side the reader supported.
Newspaper editors in colonial and early United States times thought it their duty to society to give voice to the ideas in which they believed. To muzzle themselves or others who held the same opinions would have seemed nonsensical to them.
The early newspapers, broadsheets and pamphlets gave voice to the ideas of Revolution. It’s not a stretch to say that the Revolution would not have been possible if newspapers had focused more on being “objective” and less on being intentionally contrarian, if not provocative or even incendiary.
Some papers of the time claimed independence. In the introduction to his book, Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and The Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism, Ken Burns notes the Salem [Massachusetts] Gazette boasted that it was “Influenced neither by COURT or COUNTRY” and that it gave “the most impartial accounts of the transactions of the present times.” But its views were profoundly pro-British in the run up to the war. The Pennsylvania Ledger claimed it was “Free and Impartial,” but it was decidedly pro-Revolution.