All rooms are equipped with an overhead projector
Rooms C, D, E, F, G and H (H only on Saturday): slide projector (framed slides, carrousel. There are extra carrousels available to set up your presentation in advance)
Rooms C, D, M, N, O, U and Committee Room 2: beamer to connect your laptop. You have to bring you own laptop. (If you want to use your Apple notebook, please contact us, as it may be incompatible.)
Rooms C, T and U: VCR
|Objectivity in British Journalism 1880-1980|
|Several recent researchers in British journalism history have employed the category of “objectivity” both to describe a fact-based discourse that emerged in the late nineteenth century, and as a heuristic position from which to criticize journalistic developments since the 1970s. While objectivity is a useful critical tool, however, this paper argues that it is inappropriate as an empirical description of modern British journalism at any point in the past 125 years. Indeed, even those scholars who employ the concept tend to cite American rather than British examples. This suggests that these scholars are borrowing an American concept uncritically rather than finding it within British history.
Just how inappropriate is this concept to studying British journalism history since 1880? This paper will summarize debates on the press since 1880, showing that not only was the word “objective” rarely employed, but that nothing resembling the American professional legitimizing concept as described by Schudson, Tuchman, Kaplan, and others existed within the British discourse of journalism. With respect to the commercial press, “independence” was a key value (albeit one honored often in the breach). In the broadcast journalism that emerged in the 1920s, “impartiality” was a prominent value but, unlike American objectivity, it was mandated legislatively rather than serving as a professional norm. Following this summary, the paper will employ selective content analysis case studies of the British quality press between 1880 and 1950 (e.g., in election or strike coverage), demonstrating that however “true,” “thorough,” or “fair” coverage may have been, it did not approximate American-style objectivity.
This revisionist conclusion suggests two points of relevance to debates on the contemporary media. First, it suggests that those scholars emphasizing an “Anglo-American” journalistic heritage may be overstating the case; perhaps, indeed, it is worth exploring the characteristics that British journalism shares with continental models instead. Second, and probably more importantly, it suggests that critics of recent trends in British journalism would do well to drop “objectivity” from their critical vocabulary. By presenting a misleading picture of British journalism history, such critics weaken their important case against recent cost-saving measures, commercialization, and increased concentration.