Why we need advocacy journalism

Earlier this week, I posted the results of a best j-school survey along with some of the respondents’ comments. One complained that “too many schools are teaching advocacy journalism” rather than objective reporting. Robert Niles has something to say about that:

Advocacy is not the antonym of objectivity. Objectivity is the goal of accounting for your own biases when observing of an external reality, so that your report accurately reflects that reality. By reporting objectively, the goal is that you be able to produce an observation that others, observing the same reality, can reproduce.

There’s nothing about objectivity that prohibits you from advocating on behalf of your results. In fact, putting your work up for peer review, and being able to defend it, is part of the scientific method that influenced the journalistic concept of objectivity.

Niles says he’s glad some professors are teaching advocacy journalism because “we get into this field to raise some hell and make things right. Let’s never forget that – let’s embrace it.”