Does the idea of ‘impartial journalism’ deserve challenging?

The BBCs Newsnight anchorman

Jeremy Paxman - The BBC's Newsnight anchorman

I’d like to look at how the requirement that is placed upon public broadcasters to be impartial impacts upon the quality of democracy in the UK. It’s a complex question, and I’d like to explore it over a few posts.

‘Impartial’ can mean many things. The most obvious expression of it is in the guidelines that ensure that correspondents are not imposing their own views on a story, and are instead attempting to assemble the facts – only the facts – for the viewers to review and draw their conclusions. The contrast between a fairly activist newspaper such as the UK’s Daily Mail (or perhaps, even better, Fox News in the US) and the BBC illustrates this very well.

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