Why Have Advocacy Journalism When You Can Have Just Advocacy?

It was perhaps inevitable that the embrace of advocacy journalism (and rejection of objectivity in journalism) would eventually dispense with the pretense of the journalism part.  The point was reached by National Public Radio which took the controversial step this week to announce that its journalists can engage in protests and advocacy — the abandonment of a long-standing rule for reporters to avoid such causes or demonstrations. The announcement comes on the heels of the Justice reporter for the New York Times calling all Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” New York Times reporter Nikole Hanna-Jones recently declared “all journalism is advocacy.” So that simplifies matters wonderfully for the woke. After all, why have advocacy journalism when you can simply have advocacy?

NPR announced Thursday that reporters could participate in activities that advocate for “freedom and dignity of human beings” on social media and in real life. The rule states in part:

“NPR editorial staff may express support for democratic, civic values that are core to NPR’s work, such as, but not limited to: the freedom and dignity of human beings, the rights of a free and independent press, the right to thrive in society without facing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability, or religion.”

The rule itself shows how impressionistic and unprofessional media has become in the woke era. NPR does not try to define what causes constitute advocacy for the “freedom and dignity of human beings.” How about climate change and environmental protection? Would it be prohibited to protest for a forest but okay if it is framed as “environmental justice”?

NPR seems to intentionally keep such questions vague while only citing such good causes as Black Lives Matter and gay rights:

“Is it OK to march in a demonstration and say, ‘Black lives matter’? What about a Pride parade? In theory, the answer today is, “Yes.” But in practice, NPR journalists will have to discuss specific decisions with their bosses, who in turn will have to ask a lot of questions.”

So the editors will have the power to choose between acceptable and unacceptable causes.

The inclusion of press freedom is particularly ironic as NPR itself continues to undermine core values of journalism like neutrality. Could NPR reporters protest in front of the building over this policy gutting any notion of objectivity and killing journalism? Is that a matter of “freedom and dignity”?  The policy invites subjectivity not only in journalists becoming advocacy but arbitrary judgment by editors on what will satisfy their ill-defined rule.  That may be the point. Subjectivity is the measure and, conversely, objectivity is itself a reactionary notion.

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools.

Writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

Benner tweeted on Tuesday during the first hearing of the Democrat-led Jan. 6 select committee was underway: “Today’s #January6thSelectCommittee underscores the America’s current, essential natsec dilemma: Work to combat legitimate national security threats now entails calling a politician’s supporters enemies of the state.” The MSNBC contributor also declared:

“As Americans, we believe that state power should not be used to work against a political figure or a political party. But what happens if a politician seems to threaten the state? If the politician continues to do so out of office and his entire party supports that threat?”…That leaves it up to voters, making even more essential free, fair access to the polls.”

Benner’s comments are indistinguishable from the Democratic members that she is covering.  The problem is that, while the Times has embraced advocacy journalism, its has not updated its guidelines which state that “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”

Just recently, we discussed the firing of Lauren Wolfe, who was fired for saying that she had “chills” in watching Biden land at Andrews Air Force base. Wolfe later penned a column declaring “I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That” — a full-throated endorsement of the new journalistic model of open bias and advocacy.

The abandonment of the tradition of neutrality for reporters by NPR will hasten the decline of American journalism.  Polls show trust in the media at an all-time low with less than 20 percent of citizens trusting television or print media. Yet, reporters and academics continue to destroy the core principles that sustain journalism and ultimately the role of a free press in our society.  NPR specifically appears intent on undermining its claim for continued federal subsidies. Why should conservative and libertarian citizens pay to support a news organization that now supports its own reporters joining political causes? It is highly unlikely that causes deemed advocacy for the “freedom and dignity of human beings” would include pro-life, pro-drilling, pro-police or other more conservative causes.

American journalism is moving rapidly toward the “Gonzo” journalistic model of Hunter Thompson: “I can’t think in terms of journalism without thinking in terms of political ends. Unless there’s been a reaction, there’s been no journalism. It’s cause and effect.”

The effect of the abandonment of objectivity and now neutrality is the erasure of the line between advocacy and journalism. Eventually and inevitably it will leave only advocacy without pretense or principle.

86 thoughts on “Why Have Advocacy Journalism When You Can Have Just Advocacy?”

  1. At the core of the progressive’s mindset, unconscious though it dwells, is:

    “I’m a saint…I am incapable of misjudgment or malice. The frailties of the human mind that have plagued mankind forever, leading to tribalism and all its violent excesses – those don’t apply to me — I’ve completely risen above that — as have people who think like me. Those who don’t agree with us must be less noble in their intentions and less evolved in their humanity. We are their moral superiors. And that justifies whatever righteous acts that come to mind.”

    There is a parallel mindset on the extreme right, wherein the ends justify the means.

  2. First throw objectivity out the window. Then demand that the public regard you as a respectable journalist.

    What world do those people live in?

  3. NPR is — literally — the state run media. Back in the day, we would draw a distinction between American government news outlets like Voice of America and government-controlled propaganda like Radio Moscow. Not any more.

    With the proliferation of internet news outlets and NPR’s open embrace of its propaganda mission, NPR no longer serves a useful function. It is time to shut NPR down.

    1. Epstein, only stupid bores go on with this crap that NPR is ‘state run’ propaganda. It takes no intelligence whatsoever to post such mindless tripe.

      1. This Anon post verbage is tripe. You’re looking at NPR things with a cyclope position.

          1. While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues.[2
            about 50% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations for programming and distribution charges.[25] Typically, NPR member stations receive funds through on-air pledge drives,(Tax deductible) corporate underwriting(tax deductible), state and local governments, educational institutions,(state colleges) and the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

            So like all govt things, bookkeeping and accounting are non traditional. Lots of opportunity for govt grift. I wonder how much Fauci’s National Institute of Health kicked in every year. Just one example, but their are tens of thousands of government fiefdoms that treat tax payer Dollars as their personal piggy bank, buying personal influence, and favor.

            1. about 50% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations for programming and distribution charges
              2% is nothing but the usual leftist lie.

          2. That’s false.

            Some 50% of its funding is public, i.e., taxpayers — via CPB (among other *public* sources), filtered through member stations.

    2. NPR is 98% listener-supported through pledge-drives and philanthropy. Government does not regularly fund NPR in any amount….about 2% comes off and on from federal grants. Where do you get off spreading disinformation, and from an anonymous perch?

      NPR has a long tradition of independence. They are one of the few media orgs that issued retractions and apologies for broadcasting the “Hunter Biden’s laptop is a Russian plot to smear Joe” theory. At least they care enough about their integrity to do that. How many other media orgs did retractions?

      Yes, NPR has some reporters who editorialize with inappropriate adjectives and willful fact-omission. I tweet the reporter to tell them not to form conclusions for me, I can do it for myself.

      1. “Government does not regularly fund NPR in any amount . . .”

        Where do you get off spreading “disinformation?”

        The largest percent of its funding is from government sources (e.g., the CPB) via member stations.

        I gather your hope is that some are not aware of your funding shell game.

  4. To all of you who are approaching 70 or are already over that age, you might want to think twice about socialized medicine. The quoted material is from the Telegraph. That without quotes is from John Hinderaker. To understand the complete story, one has to go to the source.

    https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/07/annals-of-government-medicine-30.php

    After reading the whole story, start thinking about how Cuomo killed a lot of senior citizens. Several other Democrat (leftist) governors did the same.

    Socialists from the HHS many decades ago tried to do something similar. Patients receiving home care were to be rated based on their quality of life. The hope was to derive a number below which patients would receive only hospice-type care. The disabled community (blind, deaf, etc.) rose in fear against the idea, and it was quietly abandoned.

    1. ANNALS OF GOVERNMENT MEDICINE
      The Telegraph reports that documents from Britain’s National Health Service, dated 2017 and 2018, indicate that the NHS contemplated denying medical care to those over 70 in case of a “serious flu epidemic.”

      The NHS drew up secret plans to withdraw hospital care from people in nursing homes in the event of a pandemic, The Telegraph can disclose.

      “Confidential Whitehall documents show that the NHS plans refused treatment to those in their 70s and that “support” would instead be offered to use so-called “end of life pathways”.”

      In their 70s!

      “The documents on “NHS surge and triage” and adult social care – labelled “confidential” and “official sensitive” – were created in 2017 and 2018 and sent to government advisers. Both looked at how services would respond to a serious flu outbreak.
      ***
      The documents raised scenarios in which, if there was a severe influenza pandemic and extreme pressure on resources, doctors would need to put some elderly patients on an “end of life pathway” and deny them hospital care.”

      {Skipping material}

      Throughout the covid fiasco, the theme in England was “Protect the NHS.”

      “Guided by its mantra to “protect the NHS”, the Government effectively loaded the Covid problem on to the care sector by telling them early in April last year that hospital patients could be discharged into care homes, regardless of whether they were Covid-positive or had even been tested.”

      {Remind anyone of NY’s Cuomo or NJ or a few other Democrat run states?}

      1. Socialists have always held the vicious view that it’s cheaper to let people die (or murder them), than it is to keep them alive.

        Then, in a typical sleight-of-hand, they accuse Republicans of “killing Grandma.”

    2. Alan, if you’re approaching 70, or older, you have Medicare. Which means you don’t need to worry about For-Profit Healthcare.

      1. Which means you don’t need to worry about For-Profit Healthcare. ?????????
        You mean like the VA? Yes that’s exactly what you mean, isn’t it?

      2. Medicare is the equivalent of the NHS in the US.

        Read the posting above. “Confidential Whitehall documents show that the NHS plans refused treatment to those in their 70s and that “support” would instead be offered to use so-called “end of life pathways”.

        Medicare already did an experimental program to see if they couldn’t use hospice care on those the bureaucrats in Washington considered had lower quality of life. The disabled community stopped that attempt. Blind people started with a lower number than sighted people.

        You don’t know what you are talking about.

  5. Greetings,
    I CLAIM!
    All power is inherent in the people. The United States is a fiction created by the several states in union together in a Congress Assembled under the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. The Union is styled The United States of America. It!! as a group created the Constitution which created the United States. The last lawful State is Oregon.
    A path to returning to a United States as a Constitutionally bound government is: to assemble a quorum of the several states that were States. In 1860 prior to South Carolina seceding. However a Civilian Court of record is required to implement Ex Parte Milligan and nullify martial law/Lieber code and FEMA.
    Therefore 33 lawful states. A lawful quorum can open a lawful Congress. That precludes color of law.

  6. Turley Lashes Out As A Bitter, Sour Apple

    Almost every day Turley has been attacking mainstream media sources for alleged ‘bias’ which he labels ‘advocacy’. But the real issue here is mainstream coverage of Trump’s defeat. All the mainstream sources are saying, unequivocally, that TRUMP LOST and his claims are lies. That outrages defenders like Turley who essentially leveraged their careers on Trump’s survival. Turley knows that his fealty to Trump will forever be a stain on credentials.

    1. Anonymous,

      Isn’t it curious that Jonathan “Fox News” Turley doesn’t criticize the advocacy journalism of Fox News or Newsmax or One America Network or BlazeTV? Why not? These networks clearly advocate for Conservatism and Trumpists. Presumably, he does not criticize them because he concedes that Fox and these others are NOT news networks subscribing to journalism ethics. Rather, these networks platform largely opinion hosts, and as long as the hosts don’t hold themselves out as journalists, Turley has no bone to pick. He criticizes only organizations which purport to adhere to journalism not those which eschew it.

      The problem that Turley will not address is that people nowadays get their “News” from advocates and not journalists. Advocacy is more entertaining and better for ratings and more people watch it. Compare the popularity of Rightwing Radio. Advocacy journalism has been the secret of Fox’s success against the MSM. Fox’s founding narrative that the “MSM is biased” is *opinion* not a News fact.Now, sadly, the MSM is ripping a page out of Fox’s playbook and engaging in advocacy journalism as well.

      I yield to no one on this blog in my utter contempt for Turley’s hypocrisy in selling out to Fox, but he cannot be accused of fealty to Trump or Trumpism. He has never called the press “fake news” or Leftists “the enemy of the people” or the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” or the Steele dossier a “hoax.” These are the words used by Trumpists who are enthralled by Trump and who proliferate on this blog. You are correct that Turley’s reputation forever will be stained- but not for fealty to Trumpism; rather his hypocrisy in working for Fox while ignoring its obvious advocacy journalism.

  7. I almost fell out of my chair. Since were talking about the two censor kiddies, the Biden administration and Twitter skipping hand to hand together to limit what we should here or see this little tidbit from CNN should peak your interest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYEKrPdKJZY. Joe says “Truth? We can’t let them handle the truth”.

  8. I voted for Trump in 2016 and feel that January 6 rally was extremely bad judgment but. I’m hoping someone like DeSantis is the R candidate in 2024, but if Trump is running against Biden or Harris I’ll certainly vote for him again. Does this make me an enemy of the state? Because I believe in free speech (for thee and me), borders, and applaud many of Trump’s achievements?

    If Republicans win in the upcoming elections, it’s time to reform or eliminate NPR. They’ve leaned way left for years, but this is supposed to be America’s voice …. not the voice merely of America’s woke progressives.

    1. Jody Reynolds,

      NPR has no commercials. That means correspondents can explore issues in depth. And conservative policies tend to fall apart when explored in depth.

      1. Your posts are about as shallow as they get. Just look at this one you just wrote. There is no depth in leftist discussions. They want to censor all other opinions and cannot provide good data to make their case.

        Conservative policies survive when explored. One can take most of the significant policies and see how weak leftist (Democrat) policies are. That is one reason those on the left cannot provide proof and refuse to deal with raw data on this blog.

        I will post in a new thread an interesting article about the NHS and how it planned to save the NHS rather than people and which might remind you of what Cuomo did in NY.

        1. Gray Anonymous, conservative policies play best on Fox and Talk Radio where commercials come fast and furious. All those distractions conveniently prevent in-depth analysis.

          1. Are you telling us that the left-wing stations don’t have advertisements? Again you don’t know what you are talking about. The MSM carries commercials and in addition is a continuous advertisement for left-wing policies.

            Look at your discussions. They are absent of anything but the most shallow thoughts.

      2. Anonymous:

        “NPR has no commercials.”

        Do you ever listen to NPR – they have several endorsements every hour detailing their sponsors, their sponsor’s activities, and a favorable commentary on those activities.

        1. The anonymous you are responding to lives in his own world oblivious to what happens in this one.

      3. Leftists are the ones who prefer fast-food versions of propaganda. They cannot handle any deep analysis or discussion of their version of “history” or of their warped world view.

  9. Let’s not forget that JT is a paid contributor to Fox, which is R propaganda channel falsely calling itself a news channel.

      1. Thinkthrough, it’s been a long time since Turley appeared in The Washington Post. I think they’ve seen these comment threads and know they’re ‘protected’ by a rightwing stooge. As for The NYT, I’m not sure they’ve ever carried Turley’s columns.

  10. Why the surprise? They are all Maoists and their goal is revolution. They’ve been brainwashed since the day they entered college and many earlier than that. They’ve taken over everything and are in the process of taking control of the military. I hope you’ve enjoyed your freedom because it’s going to end soon.

  11. Putting the puzzle pieces, government, academia, corporations, and journalists together provides a picture described in one word, Fascism.

  12. The Left’s obsession with “free, fair access to the polls” is deceptive. Their voting rights bill is actually a “federalization of all electoral laws” bill, but liberals are too hysterically partisan to see through the propaganda. The Democrats are pushing for the centralization of election control and policing, and this is not just your normal states’ rights vs. federal govt debate. This is the Democratic Party’s totalitarian vision, funded in large part by George Soros. (Note: Soros is funding the activist group in Minneapolis whose proposal to disband the police was recently adopted by the clueless city council and will be a ballot referendum this November.) I don’t think the Republicans are fully aware of the total scope of the Democratic agenda, or if they would be able to stop it even if they were.

  13. In fact, US journalism hasn’t been “objective” for decades. Remember the NYTimes and WMDs? Or all the hype over Russigate? Then there’s Hunter Biden. Point is, for decades now you could look at any news source and immediately tell what their POV was. The only difference now is that news outlets have dispensed with the charade of objectivity. This is the Postmodern dream — no “Truth,” just “truths.” Good luck to the public in sorting out fact from woke fantasy. Russia and China are looking pretty stable and sane right now.

    1. Russia and China face the same dilemma — how to maintain a shared, objective reality. They use intimidation and police state power to do so, and it leads to a build up of resentment, poor decision-making, and colossal blunders like Chernoble and the Wuhan virus.
      Their calculus is that there will be fewer blunders keeping a tight lid on the infosphere in the digital age. They are banking on national unity as an outcome of centralized leadership control over the infosphere.

  14. Somehow “Don’t stop here! This is Bat Country. ” seems apropos in today’s climate.

  15. Can’t wait until all this leftist heroic stupidity inevitably collapses the institutions they’ve taken over. Maybe we can build them back the right way. If not, I like new things. We can see that happening now with the parent-led CRT backlash. Death to the technocrats who would enslave us. Death to the expert class! Death to their enablers! Makes me feel positively Painesian!

    1. When “this leftist heroic stupidity” occurred in Cuba, it failed. How many decades have the Cubans been living with the resultant poverty and lack of freedom? It’s been over 60 years. That type of time frame means any child or grandchild we have of 20 years of age has a good chance of never seeing freedom again if we permit leftist heroic stupidity here.

      The leftists stole from the Cuban people. We shouldn’t permit them to steal America’s future.

    2. News flash, Donald Trump has raised more money than any ex president in history. I still want him to be speaker of the house.

      1. I have no idea from a politics angle whether that is a good play. But I cant think of anything more entertaining and productive than Speaker of the House Trump. And so easy. He could easily win a House Seat, and the rest, as they say, is history.

  16. The Lefties have become retard happy.

    They feel that momentum is on their side (and in NPR’s case, they even have conservative tax dollars supporting them).

    What can go wrong?

    Lefty momentum relies on conservative acquiescence and that is not a given.

    We aren’t going to sit quietly and watch the Left ruin the country.

      1. Simply said, journalism and advocacy are oxymorons and accordingly should never be juxtaposed nor even mentioned in the same breath. Should there be any doubt, a study of Jim Lehrer’s Rules of Journalism will be amply rewarded.

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