Objectivity, like Communism, is just a nice idea

The only thing I hate more than ignorant people who whine about media bias are journalists who roll their eyes at accusations of bias.

On Thursday morning, I heard several stories from NPR and BBC journalists about day two of the Thailand coup that made it obvious the reporters supported the military.

The interviewer asked, “What about democracy?” The in-field reporter then faithfully recited the party line: “There was no real democracy here with the prime minister.”

Wow, in Thailand it’s possible to win three elections against the will of the king and generals without honoring the democratic system. Maybe he’s got a precious magic ring in his pocket.

Journalists are too biased.

That’s not necessarily a criticism against “the Media” (I usually avoid that word because every form of marketable communication cannot be lumped into one category). Bias isn’t a dirty word. It’s a result of presenting a perspective.

It is possible, however, to avoid being called biased by admitting one’s bias or writing in such a way that doesn’t interfere with the reader’s learning.

One can usually identify how well a journalist is managing his or her bias by what kinds of questions are asked to which people. This is usually called getting “both sides of the story.”

It is said that the prime minister won three elections with the support of rural voters. How is it possible that, after 72 hours, not one journalist from NPR or BBC had interviewed a rural supporter of said prime minister?

The root of the problem is arrogance. Journalists are some of the most arrogant people I know-next to lawyers. They think years of experience seeing and hearing historic events and people give them incredible perspective.

Bias doesn’t just stem from an uninformed perspective-although that is the most obvious kind-it comes from journalists relying on their own perspective.

Who even came up with the word “journalist?” No one asked them to keep a journal for humanity. Journals have feelings. They are paid to report humanity.

And that is where their power lies.

Investigative reporters can “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” by shining a light on the obscure. Good reporters walk around the world shining a flashlight on everything.

I haven’t yet heard from Thailand’s rural people who lost their legitimately elected president. I’ve only heard from Bangkok’s elite-who apparently know what’s best for the country. Shame on the reporters there for taking sides.

Former Chronicle writer Adam Benson used to boast that he never voted because it was his job not to pick sides. While I believe good citizenship is not in conflict with good reporting, I respect the quest he is on.

Benson saw reporting as a kind of religion; and though religious people still make huge mistakes, there is something to be said for striving to conform to an ideal that exists to benefit the society as a whole.

Journalists cannot rid themselves of bias, but they need to manage it to the best of their abilities by never being satisfied with a single perspective.

Or else they often report their own.