Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator (2016), Vol. 71(2) 163–174. doi: 10.1177/1077695815590014


Copyright © 2015 AEJMC; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Objectivity has long been contentious in American journalism. Many practitioners call it essential to a news organization’s credibility. Critics, however, hold objectivity is impossible and urge reporters simply to reveal their biases. For educators, teaching objectivity is challenging. Some, seeking a middle ground, instead urge fairness and balance, or counsel “impartiality.” Even such approaches are challenging. This article explores the difficulties, based on a study where students were lectured on fairness, balance, objectivity, and bias. They wrote news stories before and after the lessons. Evaluators found no substantial improvement in fairness and increased bias, however, pointing up the difficulties involved.