Instigator / Pro

FEBRUARY TOURNAMENT: In a democracy, a free press ought to prioritize objectivity over advocacy


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
Better legibility
Better conduct

After 4 votes and with 27 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
Voting period
One week
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

Resolved: In a democracy, a free press ought to prioritize objectivity over advocacy

This debate is for the February tournament.

February DART Debate Tournament

Basic Debate rules:

4 rounds, 1st round acceptance, one-week voting period, 3-day argument time



Democracy: a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
Free press: The freedom of news media outlets to say what they want to say.
Prioritize: designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.
Objectivity: The quality of being objective
Advocacy: To support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

Round 1
Introduction to journalism, the press and the role that advocacy plays.

Ladies, gentlemen and genderfluids reading this, please notice that right now, Pro and I are both advocating for a cause. Pro is advocating for a free press in a democracy, which holds objectivity as a higher priority than advocacy (perhaps demonising advocacy, we never got to see where Pro went with his case). Meanwhile, I am advocating for the completely unhypocritical cause of a free press in a democracy that holds advocacy sacred and objectivity as a supporting value, as opposed to the primary one. You, as voters and audience, are the equivalent of the influenced populace by the media in a democracy here. While there is a difference since we are not competing to be your respective leader, the analogy does hold up, we are competing to advocate for your support for our cause (as opposed to policy but this fits the description's definition).

So, let's discuss journalism. 

News is that part of communication that keeps us informed of the changing events, issues, and characters in the world outside. Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed.

The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.

Journalism is the act of writing about news related subjects for all mediums, print and non-print. It is also the complicated process of taking information and sifting through it, editing information, and giving it context. The journalist is always involved in the selection and presentation of what he or she considers to be noteworthy, and in meeting the standard of truth and honesty in reporting. Journalism incorporates everything from the "hard" news of politics and public affairs, to the softer side, which includes human interest and celebrity stories.

It's certainly easy to see how one could support Pro after these definitions, and indeed if facts and data in one's journalism are objectively wrong, that's faulty journalism but which, between advocacy and objectivity, is it that is the ultimate priority in journalism? Anybody can relay correct facts, in fact artificial intelligence could do this quite well. The entire reason why journalism is not done simply be databases and spreadsheets relaying the latest objective facts to people is because it is about more than that; it's about convincing and informing people of things that one considers a worthwhile human perspective on the matter.

This can be as somewhat politically arbitrary (though it makes us question homeschooling and the policing of it) as the Turpin children who were abused by the parents relentlessly, the eldest for 29 years, until one broke free at 17 and the news network ABC helped spread their story and of course financially helped them succeed and thrive despite their past. The 2 sisters who became famous are of course a small part of a bigger picture. Stories like this would be horrifically stale and emotionless if the ABC journalists had to watch every word they utter or type, afraid to seem too subjective and opinionated in their support for the girls and demonisation of the parents (all of which are deserved, in my eyes). The parents were Christians, heavily so, so there is indeed some anti-bigotry going on in the reporting of events. Heck, part of the reports name and celebrate Justin Bieber as the unironic single celebrity/figure who the one that escaped/broke-free before calling the cops to rescue the other, had as her inspiration after stumbling across him online on a phone only her older sibling should have been using. Is that 'objective'? Well in some ways yes but the heart of journalism and essence of it at its peak is opinionated reporting, advocating for people and their interest groups. It can be as politically arbitary as passionately advocating for victims of abuse and their story/angle, which goes beyond one household of Turpins and covers advocating for those victimised by systemic racism and sexism or all kinds of advocacy out there that represents what they claim is/are victim(s).

This leads me very smoothly onto my next contention.

Fighting for or against Objectivity in the media is like shadowboxing (SB)

This analogy has three aspects to it:

  1. You are yourself never a fully objective being nor close to it. We each have perceptions and understandings, let alone emotions, that influence our way of perceiving truth and certainly in perceiving what constitutes bending that truth too far. Similar to your shadow in SB, you cannot win without fighting yourself and admitting your own inability to be truly objective.
  2. In SB you constantly adapt to an imaginary opponent that, when you're out of ideas, happens to be your own shadow. In the case of 'objectivity' in the media, unless we're dealing with direct lies and falsehoods, the prioritisation of objectivity is theoretical at best, continually. What exactly constitutes an article as objective enough to be considered more objective than it is advocative and how precisely are the people to go about pushing this cause? In a democracy, journalism pretty much automatically and naturally favours advocacy, given the fact that while it does need correct facts, the entire artistic and human side of journalism and reason it's a profession that AI will likely never thwart or replace. I would like my opponent to prove otherwise. 
  3. In SB, you are continually exerting yourself, preparing for the 'real battle' that may come later where your expertise needs to be used against worthwhile opponents. Similarly, the majority of exertion that a pro-objectivity society and/or press-censoring group would do would not only interfere with how free the press is but furthermore is going to hit far more undeserving targets than the truly misconstruing ones. The reason for this is linked to both of the previous ones, we just don't truly know what objectivity is beyond simply not stating lies.
To highlight to you how vague and obscure objectivity is, please take notice that the definition of it in this debate is tautologous.

All that we learn from the definition is the etymology of the word 'objectivity' comes from the word 'objective' but therefore all we learned is that the word 'objective' means to possess the quality of objectivity which is somehow also defined as the quality of being objective...

On the other hand, advocacy has a clear definition that in no shape or form pointed one back to the term 'advocate' nor 'vocalise' or 'vocation' because the etymology of 'advocacy isn't necessary to define it, since the word has a straightforward definition.

The reason Pro naturally went for a tautologous definition of 'objective' that was vague is because in reality, 'objectivity' really is that vague. If one were to tell you the correct facts on a matter but in any shape or form utter his/her/their subjective take and opinion, one has in technicality violated a democratic prioritisation of objectivity in the free press of the democracy in which one produces that journalistic output. Then, it follows that all the media outlets would end up parroting each other in Pro's utopia, however to realise this we need to again violate this debate's tautology regarding objectivity and crack the real definition.

Let's work with the given tautology and push past to define 'objective':

based on real facts and not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings

Please for a moment truly take the time to pause reading this (after this sentence) and imagine for yourself a world where the free press was pressured to be devoid of influence by personal beliefs or feelings...

Let's be clear here, Pro's side isn't pushing only to reduce the subjective elements of media, instead we are going to be pressuring against the very influences themselves, how could we even police that?

In the end, such a policy would primarily inhibit any journalist's ability to advocate for any special interest group or individual that they cared about and wanted the opinion heard of. Furthermore, in the debate's description the free press is defined as 'The freedom of news media outlets to say what they want to say'... How can free press even begin to function if we are pushing everybody to worry about sounding more neutral than passionate?

That really is what the debate's title is about, fighting this boogeyman of over-opinionation and so-called 'unhealthy advocacy' in favor of a cause known as 'objectivity' that really just means 'removing everything human and creative in journalism'. Metaphors are objectively incorrect depictions of real events and situations, should we ban them, analogies and similies too? At what stage will we stop the oppression of the free press in the cause for objectivity? Pro has given us nothing to work with, he objectively forfeited the first Round.

Perhaps Pro presumed that since he'd written '1st round acceptance' in the description and hinted at us using it for opening speech that this Round barely mattered but this wasn't a '4 round' debate as he mentions, this was only 3 Rounds, so we naturally had skipped the acceptance Round. Now, Pro has to defy objectivity to advocate for himself as to why you should forgive his error and consider me wrong despite objectively having denied you his entire Round 1 of debate. I will of course allow that, it is the essence of democratic society, with a free press, to have competing interests all able to advocate for their respective passionate causes and beliefs regarding policy. I would say that if everyone can advocate, that is the closest that us subjective human beings can (as a society) get to objective truth.

What say you, reader? Do you want all tone in News to be as similar as possible?
Round 2
I have been provided nothing to refute.

To save face, I request my opponent to concede actively instead of wasting time and forfeiting.
Round 3
All is well.