Journalistic objectivity is a considerable notion within the discussion of journalistic professionalism. Journalistic objectivity may refer to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship, but most often encompasses all of these qualities. First evolving as a practice in the 18th century, a number of critiques and alternatives to the notion have emerged since, fuelling ongoing and dynamic discourse surrounding the ideal of objectivity in journalism.
Most newspapers and TV stations depend upon news agencies for their material, and each of the four major global agencies (Agence France-Presse (formerly the Havas agency), Associated Press, Reuters, and Agencia EFE) began with and continue to operate on a basic philosophy of providing a single objective news feed to all subscribers. That is, they do not provide separate feeds for conservative or liberal newspapers. Journalist Jonathan Fenby has explained the notion:
To achieve such wide acceptability, the agencies avoid overt partiality. The demonstrably correct information is their stock-in-trade. Traditionally, they report at a reduced level of responsibility, attributing their information to a spokesman, the press, or other sources. They avoid making judgments and steer clear of doubt and ambiguity. Though their founders did not use the word, objectivity is the philosophical basis for their enterprises – or failing that, widely acceptable neutrality.
Objectivity in journalism aims to help the audience make up their own mind about a story, providing the facts alone and then letting audiences interpret those on their own. To maintain objectivity in journalism, journalists should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective reporting is meant to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writer's opinion or personal beliefs.