The competing ideals of objectivity and dialogue in american journalism

Oren Soffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectivity and dialogue are competing ideals in the practice of American journalism and in the way the press is analyzed and ethically evaluated. This article examines the relationship of these two ideals using tools from the dialogical philosophy of Martin Buber and Michael Bakhtin. I argue that 'objective' journalism is part of an atmosphere that observes, maps, gathers information, and objectifies social phenomenon while keeping an outsider position and avoiding entrance into dialogical relationships. Such a position demonstrates a monologue that speaks in the ostensibly factual voice of the real world. But as the belief in objectivity waned through the postmodern crisis, the dialogical perception ĝ€" as a general theoretical and methodological array of thought ĝ€" started to flourish in communication studies and journalistic practices. The undermining process of the modernist objective, message-driven model of communication encouraged the rise of scholarly perceptions and journalistic practices that 'privatized' the communication process into various dialogical sites. Online journalism, with its interactive technological potential, marks another peak in the dialogic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-491
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Bakhtin
  • Buber
  • Dialogue
  • New journalism
  • Objectivity
  • Postmodernism
  • Public-journalism


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