Historically, impartiality has been imposed as the norm of professional journalism. Yet, be it conceived in terms of non-partisanship or balance, it offers a limited approach to the evaluation of the quality of news. This article revises the traditional approach to bias: As neutrality is impossible and truth does not lie in the middle, accuracy is better served by fairness than by a delusive position of impartiality. An alternative model promoting fairness is thus proposed, which is based on the criteria of consistency and justification of position-taking. Based on the work of socio-linguist Labov, this model is not without methodological challenges. We apply the model to a newspaper article for illustrative purposes and as a starting point for discussion, showing that, unlike impartiality, fairness is altogether an attainable and desirable standard.
- journalistic values