Guest Speaker Discusses the History of Journalism

By: Ariel Gruver

It is always important to know the history of your work and of your studies. On Tuesday evening professor Phil Bundy from Wisconsin came to the University of Oregon to enlighten many journalism undergraduates on their career of choice. On the third floor of Allen hall Bundy spoke to students and professors about the past and the present of journalism in the United States.

The majority of the discussion focused on the idea of objectivity versus partisan journalism. Bundy began by mentioning a more current event involving Keith Oberman and MSNBC. Bundy argued that Oberman, whether fired or voluntarily quit, became too involved for his line of work. As a commentator for the popular news station, partisan reporting became familiar to Oberman’s image resulting in his final dismissal from MSNBC.

Despite the growing population of partisan news sources Bundy identified many sources from the past that were far from objective news writing. The Democratic and Republican newspapers held the news standards up until the mid 19th century. During this time the majority of people obtained their news and information from these largely partisan sources due to the lack of objective news available to the public.

Bundy emphasized that though partisan news reporting is growing in popularity, partisan writing and reporting is no new development, but rather a long history of widespread influence.

According to Bundy, “Transparency is very important”. Bundy explained that it is essential to keep the reporter out of the story if you want to remain objective. In order to protect yourself as a journalist you must strive for accuracy and credibility. “People are always going to want to know where your information came from.”

Bundy observed that the concentration of partisan news sources has increased significantly over the past 25 years. Bundy notes recognizing more sources as opinions and less as objective.

Bundy suspected that the increase in partisan news reporting is due to the explosion of new sources. Communication outlets such as the Internet, cable, and blogging provide instant access to an array of social networks. “There are so many voices, you may not be heard if you are only giving straight news,” Bundy stated. He believed that with so many large news publications established many people choose to take a position to attract attention.

Under ideal circumstances most news sources would report objectively. However, as Bundy explained, this ideal is not the case. Bundy does not believe one can be completely objective because their will always be some opinion when assembling information. Bundy does believe “that one can be fair and be closer to perfect objectivity.”

In order to distinguish objective from partisan news Bundy said that we can teach people to be better consumers and raise awareness through media literacy. As for the journalists producing the news stories, “We can only encourage them to be fair-minded and accurate” Bundy stated as he concluded his lecture and received a warm applause. The students and professors were then left, with Bundy’s observations, to consider which type of news they would report in the future.

About agruver

I grew up in Portland, Oregon where I attended high school, and began writing for the school newspaper. I enrolled at Portland State University right after graduation and spent two years beginning my college career and saving for the move. After two long years of working overtime hours and attending night classes I packed up all my belongings and moved to Eugene Oregon to begin studying in the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon. Now, I'm working on a major in journalism and public relations, with a BA minor, just for fun. I want to absorb as much as I can while attending the university, not only to make the most of my college education but to be prepared with as many skills as I can possibly acquire in order to be confident when facing an uncertain job market following graduation!
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