“The End of ‘Objectivity’ in New Era: A Good Thing?”
When Michael Paulson began covering religion for The Boston Globe eight years ago, the paper had no
blogs or online video, he did almost no outside speaking work, and the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning
coverage of the Catholic church sex scandal was still years away. Today, Paulson finds himself going
well beyond the straight news stories of the print edition -- to more analysis, public speaking and
commentary, and, in just the past few months, a religion-focused blog.
He’s not alone. While Paulson, 43, contends the objective approach to reporting is maintained on all
fronts, he says that keeping up in so many journalistic outlets can be difficult: “There is a difference
between being analytical and being opinionated. A blog is much more challenging because it is first-
person. It is very fast, and in the world of blogging, most bloggers are offering opinions all the time.
When newspapers add the format of blogging, I am not allowed the leeway of the traditional blogger.”
Paulson’s challenge is one that more and more print journalists are confronting as they are asked to write
news stories, blog items, do analysis (often minutes after an event has occurred) and, in many cases,
provide commentary for radio, television, and even online outlets. As newspaper Web sites blend in more
with blogs that do not hold to the same journalistic rules, there is greater pressure to “write like them” --
and sometimes cut corners on the principles of objectivity and balance that have been the oft-stated
mainstay, for better or worse, of newspaper news coverage.
“I see a lot of cheering in the press box that used to not be the way,” says Carla Marinucci, a 12-year
political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who noted a much more partisan tone at this year’s
political conventions due to many bloggers in attendance than in the past. “All of us have to be very