Lauren Wolfe, the former freelance editor who was fired by The New York Times over a pro-Biden tweet, defended her open political stance in a recent op-ed titled, “I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That.”
Wolfe was ousted by the Times after she celebrated the arrival of then-President-elect Joe Biden at Joint Base Andrews ahead of his inauguration, writing “I have chills.”
Published on Friday in Washington Monthly, Wolfe argued that “being fair and having [a] point of view aren’t incompatible” and that journalists “shouldn’t have to disguise or suppress their views.”
“Ever since I was fired from The New York Times at the end of January, no matter what I publish or say about journalism online, angry people come out of their hidey-holes to yell at me. They say that I’m biased … that journalists are all crooked, and that I’m a perfect example of why no one can believe anything we in the media say,” Wolfe began her piece, which was originally written on her Substack. “So, I’d like to talk a little about this idea of bias — and its implied opposite, objectivity — in journalism. They are inextricably linked.”
Wolfe argued being an objective journalist is not being “you” because political biases must remain “hidden,” but also insisted “that doesn’t mean our implicit bias isn’t guiding our choice of sources, or even what stories we decide to cover.”
“I’ve always believed it is better to be open about my views on the issues I cover, which for a long time have been war and international human rights. And yes, I often do write with an agenda — with an eye toward creating change,” Wolfe wrote. “So yes, I am biased, and consciously so when it comes to certain subjects — especially when I’m reporting on criminality. But I don’t see that as a bad thing.”
The journalist knocked the media organizations’ “relentless need to find objective balance” in their reporting, which she argued “has actually led to dangerous imbalance — with outlets too often giving as much space to lies as to facts.”
She pointed to her past reporting that led to the arrest of gang child rapists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, writing, “I was up front about what I was trying to achieve, and once I felt I’d gone over the invisible line of being in the story, I wrote about that.”
“My actions as a journalist had effected change, which became part of the story I was telling. Continuing to report without mentioning this would have been impossible, and I couldn’t simply stop covering what was happening to these little girls,” Wolfe added. “Transparency trumps pretending we’re not humans with opinions and emotions like everyone else.”
Wolfe wrote the Times knew about her openly liberal politics when she was first hired and told her it was acceptable as long as she stopped her opinionated writings going forward.
“I’m not saying there is no implicit bias at the Times or at other newspapers, but most journalists at the top of their field are damn good at keeping it out of their news reporting. Of course, some will always seep in, but that’s not necessarily going to make the coverage misleading or inaccurate. Again, journalists are still humans,” she wrote. “Yes, I am biased. But when my work calls for me not to be, I work very hard to create unbiased journalism — that’s what a professional does.”
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