It is important in journalism to remain objective by reporting the facts without personal bias. Some journalists feel like they cannot participate in politics or current events. Even voting, the most basic of civic duties, could compromise a journalist. But what happens to those who choose to forfeit their objectivity? Depending on the news organization, a journalist could be prohibited from covering a story or even fired.
The New York Times for example decided to “distance” itself from a freelance reporter. Lisa Simeone was arrested for participating in the Occupy Wall Street Protests. Simeone was covering the protests for the Times. The paper could no longer trust her to report effectively on a subject she was so closely related to and involved in.
Because of her participation in the protests Simeone was also fired from two other media outlets. Her work at the Times was obviously compromised by the situation. But why did the other two media outlets choose to discontinue working with her as well? Being associated with a journalist involved in the protests in such a public way could reflect negatively on the news outlet. That association could damage the credibility of the entire operation.
A similar circumstance happened to a student at the UW-Madison. In this case the student had not yet begun her internship with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when she was “un-hired” for signing a petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The student had signed the petition before she had even interviewed for the internship. However, the work she was going to be doing for the paper was within the state capitol bureau.
In both of these cases the journalist did something that would directly compromise his or her objectivity on the subject they were hired to cover. In order to become a good journalist a balance must be found. Stay neutral in your personal life or risk your personal life affecting your career.
– Hillary Crusan