Has Journalism truly lost its objectivity? Has competition from the many new news sources that have boomed since the internet was born turned traditional sources of news into mere ratings seeking missiles that report what the people want to hear or is true objectivity still alive? What is an objective source? I would put forth that a truly objective news source was one from which the tone of articles was overwhelmingly neutral. A just the facts, ma'am style where events were reported without hype or hyperbole. Do we have this any more? Not according to this Winning the Media Campaign | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) Winning the Media CampaignOctober 22, 2008 How the Press Reported the 2008 General Election The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended. Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so. It's not that coverage of BHO was overwhelmingly more positive but that his coverage was more balanced among positive, neutral and negative than was the coverage of JM which was decidedly more negative. now if coverage was truly objective, shouldn't the neutral be the dominant percentage of all reports? Before you BHO people scream about a partisan web study, please read the methodology and how "tone" of articles was determined. I think you will find the study does a very good job of both. To examine tone, the Project takes a particularly cautious and conservative approach. Unlike some researchers, we examine not just whether assertions in stories are positive or negative, but also whether they are inherently neutral. This, we believe, provides a much clearer and fairer sense of the tone of coverage than ignoring those balanced or mixed evaluations. Second, we do not simply tally up all the evaluative assertions in stories and compile them into a single pile to measure. Journalists and audiences think about press coverage in stories or segments. They ask themselves, is this story positive or negative or neutral? Hence the Project measures coverage by story, and for a story to be deemed as having a negative or positive tone, it must be clearly so, not a close call: for example, the negative assertions in a story must outweigh positive assertions by a margin of at least 1.5 to 1 for that story to be deemed negative. The first thing i looked for was bias in evaluating the tone of articles and I found the study's methods to be very reasonable. What we see in these findings, above all, are two phenomena. The first is the focus on tactics and strategy. The candidate who was perceived to be winning this year got better coverage. We have seen that pattern before. In 2000, our research saw George Bush receiving more positive coverage than Gore. In 2004, our studies of a narrower time frame saw Kerry enjoying better coverage, as polls perceived his closing the gap on Bush. The second phenomenon is an almost instantaneous reinforcing and echoing effect of the press. Presidential elections are now so heavily polled, with various daily tracks and compilations of state-by-state polls, that every campaign event is almost instantly measured for its political impact and that in turn is immediately analyzed by the political press. Each event has in a sense three echoes. The event is covered. The effect is measured. And the reaction to that measurement by the campaigns is then examined and covered. That pattern becomes a snowball, and the trajectory of any one campaign event is magnified. Occasionally the news media will alter this dynamic pattern of covering the candidates’ behavior and then measuring the political effect of it—with their own enterprise or background pieces.... Even more occasionally the press will influence the narrative by asking questions of the candidates directly I think this last "influence" is one we want to see more. Not in that it will influence tone of the coverage but that if done objectively it will actually allow the public to judge candidates on their own merits by standards that each person sets individually rather than what tone is lent to articles by the journalistic media. At least one journalist seems to concur with the above study. Michael S Malone in a recent column: Media's Presidential Bias and Decline Reporting Bias For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions. But I always wrote it off as bad judgment and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy.... The Presidential Campaign But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign. Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press. before you start calling Malone a right wing hack... Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play. The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau. No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so. Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?... The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber. Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person So why weren't those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal? The editors. The men and women you don't see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn't; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits. Bad Editors Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Do you think there is any merit to Malone's premise?