THE VIEW FROM SOMEWHERE by Lewis Raven Wallace


Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity
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An examination of a significant, contentious issue in the field of journalism.

Soon after Wallace decided on a career in journalism after college, he began to question the wisdom of traditional journalistic “objectivity.” When he lost a job in public radio due to his open questioning of the objectivity paradigm, he conducted a deep inquiry into the history and validity of objectivity in the field. Wallace acknowledges that some of his questioning stems from his personal identity as a transgender individual. Even though the author’s public radio employer desired newsroom diversity, he still got fired. It’s important to note that by questioning objectivity, Wallace is not abandoning the goal of factual accuracy and context. Rather, the author maintains that objectivity is often the ideology of the status quo and that journalists should sometimes feel free to openly question the status quo. As examples, Wallace mentions reporting beyond the official police versions of fatal shootings, government versions of wars waged against enemies abroad, and common depictions of gay and transgender lives. The author’s historical research led him to boundary-busting nonobjective journalists, including Ida B. Wells, Heywood Broun, Randy Shilts, Linda Greenhouse, David Brock, Masha Gessen, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and Gary Younge. Because he focuses primarily on journalists who might be labeled renegades, Wallace also addresses the possibility of confirmation bias regarding his arguments. The author delves into the thicket of angry, often misleading rhetoric spread by Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, Fox TV personalities, and other similar outlets. Wallace is rarely preachy in his arguments; his case comes across as nuanced and subtle. How, for example, would traditional objectivity play out in a journalistic account of climate change? Is there really another “side” to tell responsibly? The author hopes for an eventual journalism of collaboration with the voiceless rather than a process of simply extracting information from them as exploited sources.

A compelling addition to the ongoing conversation on journalism and how it is practiced and consumed.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-226-58917-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019