John Gruber on Objectivity
Friday, 30 December, 2011 — journalism apple gruber
NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen uses the term “view from nowhere” to describe how a significant segment of America’s news media presents news, analysis and opinion. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, please go read Rosen’s explanation of what he means with the term.
I see frequent references to what ends up being false equivalence in several arenas. Political coverage is a big one, particularly around the differences between Democrats and Republicans. James Fallows has an exemplar dismantling of how the Senate minority is acting, and how the media is writing about it. Climate science, the healthcare debate and the global financial crisis all have their examples where the “view from nowhere” pervades reporting and actively obstructs a layperson from understanding of what’s actually happening. It’s also harmful to news organizations committed to the “view from nowhere”, say NPR, when their opponents are willing to leverage that policy against them.
I finished college and started my career in journalism, so I have a deeper interest that I suspect most folks might in the sausage making of reporting and commentary. So, over the couple of weeks, I’ve really appreciated how John Gruber has been trying to get a splinter out from under a fingernail regarding the claim he’s a mindlessly pro-Apple fanboy, after his appearance on “On The Verge”.
I’ve followed Gruber’s writing, with relish, for years and I’m in agreement with roughly 90 percent of what he writes. I like his sarcasm and the fact that it’s generally crystal clear if he likes or dislikes something. It’s also not hard to find when he thinks Apple is off-base. I usually go back to late July 2009, a period when Apple rejected Google’s voice apps from the App Store, but more recent examples abound.
What really clicked in my head and went, “Yes, that!” was listening to his post-appearance debrief with Dan Benjamin on The Talk Show, Ep. 71. Starting about nine minutes in, Gruber takes the “fanboy” premise and goes on a nice discourse on objectivity vs. fairness, using his appearance on the show and the rest of the show segments as examples for why the “view from nowhere” is dishonest to the audience.
If you’re familiar with tech, and you’re familiar with Gruber’s grasp of his areas of interest, listen from minute 9 to minute 30 or so and imagine where else commentary and reporting could benefit by not being watered down by false balance.