Journalism Activists V.S. Activist Journalists

“It is a matter of being honest or dishonest. All activists are not journalists, but all real journalists are activists. Journalism has a value, a purpose — to serve as a check on power.” – Glenn Greenwald

Throughout my journalism education, I have been taught that a journalist must report fairly and objectively. As I look at independent and mainstream outlets, objectivity is sometimes lost in the midst of bias and activism.

According to Society of Professional Journalists, a journalist’s job is to seek the truth and report it; minimize harm; act independently; be accountable and transparent. David Carr wrote in a New York Times article that an “activist has become a code word for someone who is driven by an agenda beyond seeking information on the public’s behalf.”

Activism in regard to journalism can push a journalist to be fully immersed in their reporting. The passion a journalist has for a certain subject can lead to the uncovering of something that has been previously overlooked. On the other hand, this passion can blind a reporter.

We all hate to be told that we’re wrong, especially when it comes to a topic that we love. When the word activist comes before journalist, it is easy to get caught up in personal biases and report less objectively. When the word journalist comes first, passion and a skeptical eye can create an amazing story.

As journalists, we must find the balance between exploring our passions and remaining skeptical. This type of reporting leads to learning new things that you might not have noticed before and writing a story that the public can trust.


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