Talk:Advocacy journalism

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Advocacy journalism:
  • Add material from the cited sources to the main article itself, especially the history section.
  • Find solid sources in books and trade publications
  • Add more perspectives and direct quotes
  • Fix some weasel terms
  • Edit lead and some subsections, comment in talk.
Priority 4

Stub skepticism[edit]

I think this stub is very POV and should be deleted. I think the writer has confused and conflated public relations, publicity and editorializing with what he or she has labled "Advocacy Journalism." The term is self-contradictory and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what journalism is and what the standards and ethical codes of journalists are centered on. Calicocat 16:42, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well, whether or not we agree with them, there's a substantial number of advocacy journalists, at least in the US, who have a substantial audience. Many of these you can find under alternative media (though not all of the publications there adhere to any published or unpublished standards for accuracy, etc.) Pick up an alternative weekly, and you may find an article by an independent journalist - not a publicist or spokesperson for a cause - which purports to be accurate butHHHHHHMMMMMUYK which is also clearly pushing a cause and a point of view. Journalists who adhere to mainstream standards would view this as bad journalism, but the alternative crowd affirmatively rejects that view. Some people believe that there's no such thing as objectivity, and that the mainstream media are only fooling themselves and their audiences in pretending that there is. The alternative solution they propose is simply to fully expose biases to the reader, rather than trying to hide them as much as possible. In other circles, objectivity may be put aside not because it doesn't exist, but bFFFFYUUT76IT7Iecause it's unnecessary or beUJNJKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKJcause it gets in the way of the purpose of the writer. For example, many mainstream journalists do investigative reports on waste, corruption, and scandals in government, while attempting to remain neutral. Advocacy journalists may prefer instead to adopt a clear political opinion, or style themselves as crusaders against a particular form of waste, corruption, or abuse.
Objectivity is sometimes proposed as necessary to prevent the reader from distrusting the author, or being annoyed by the writing too much to get much out of it. Advocacy journalists often assume that the read will share their biases (especially in politically charged alternative media), or will simply keep them in mind while evaluating what are supposed to be well-researched and persuasive facts.
I attended a journalism conference in the mid 1990s in Western Massachusetts, and I can assure you that "advocacy journalism" was creating a big stir among professional journalists there at the time. Some local publications were using advocacy journalism standards, rejecting objectivity as a goal but retaining other journalistic standards. There were also people from more "mainstream" publications there. Some of them worried that advocacy journalism would undermine their own work, or lead to public confusion or the spread of biased or incorrect information. Others saw mainstream journalism and advocacy journalism as distinct and perhaps complementary genres, which the public could satisfactorily distinguish between. -- Beland 02:33, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Since seeing this term here, I, too, did a bit of research and find it being applied mostly to the so called "alternative press." I find the term unconvincing and specious. If it's advocacy it's not journalism; if it's journalism, it's not advocacy. The term is a self-contradiction, oxymornic, utterly illogical and sounds like a construct designed to confuse people, perhaps becoming a blanket ad hominem for any media outlet that covers a story some special interest doesn't like, a way of dismissing the uncomfortable.. There is objective truth, there are facts, these things do exist and it is philosophically and intellectually dishonest to say they do not. If one wants to read Mother Jones or the National Review, that's all a matter of choice and each of those publications cover things of interest to their readers' political outlook. Again, the term seems to be designed to cause public confusion and perhaps advance the cause of a particular faction in whose interest it may be to "take down" the press by fostering distrust and consternation with this indefensibly oxymoronic, even hypocritical term. I find the term itself to smack of an anti-press POV. The only thing I'm left with is the question of who dreamt up the term "advocacy journalism," who invented it and whose interests is it backing? I could speculate about that, but I'll leave that out for the time being... Thanks for your extended comments. Calicocat 04:59, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Major expansion[edit]

So I slapped together a poorly researched article, which promotes this article from a stub to a page needing attention, more in some parts than others. I removed the NPOV tag, because I included material explaining the common criticisms of advocacy journalism. Please feel free to read the new article and edit or tag as you see fit. -- Beland 04:57, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Oh, and I'm sure that the prose could be edited for better flow and organization. -- Beland 05:03, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Term: Advocacy Journalism[edit]

This is one of those times when a library card would be helpful. The term "Advocacy Journalism" is decades old and used both in journalism reviews and in the teaching of journalism. It represents journalism that does not profess objectivity but does aspire to fairness and accuracy. Prior to the move to professionalize the print press, advocacy journalism was the norm. Muckrakers are an example of the form: Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, I.F. Stone.--Cberlet 12:40, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Recent lead revisions[edit]

I've liked how this article has developed but felt it needed more clarity and expansion. While I somewhat liked the previous lead I felt it wasn't exactly hitting the mark. I thought use of a hypothetical was a fitting device to explain advocacy journalism in its primary context, i.e., reporting in the public interest which is yet suspending some of what journalist mean when they use objectivity, or editorializing on the news page. I like the article's internal structure, flowing naturally from the simple to the complex, closing with matters of ontology, human perception, philosophy. I look back over my early comments and discussion and see that there's been a lot of good work done to improve this article, I hope my contribution is seen favorably. I looked over many comments made before including this edit. The changes I've made were done after careful thought. As I was editing, I was took note to also remove weasel words and generally language that sounded overly tentative or vague. I have tried to increase specificity and accuracy. My best, Calicocat 06:49, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

PNAC - 1st exposure to "advocacy journalism"[edit]

I had never heard this term until I saw it on the Project for a New American Century website. They did not give a definition for it although they do acknowlege that they use it.

Reading the Wikipedia article, gave me the impression that this is more of a left-leaning, or alternative media tool. Even the hypothetical "example" is not 'right'. It seems to me that, after reading the article, this 'technique' is used far more by the right than the left, and the mainstream media than alternative media. The Fox News Channel, MSNBC, even CNN, and organizations like PNAC/the Bush administration appear to use this 'technique' regularly. When the former Soviet Union did this, we used to call it propaganda. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Waterflaws (talkcontribs).

to clear up some confusion[edit]

One can't claim as examples of advocacy jounalism if they violate one of if not the major rules of advocacy journalism. for example... press leaks, plame affair, white house infomercials etc. in none of these examples was the reporting being honest about it's intentions. the white house infomercials tried to pass itself off as objective journalism, the plame affair was done under the assumption of objective journalism. so that arguement that they are examples of advocacy jounalism is erroneous. and the fact that those happened argues in favor of advocacy journalism. so now it's definately POV to attribute all bad journalism to advocacy journalism.

"The U.S. government has also made use of video news releases in covert domestic propaganda campaigns. In 2004 and 2005, Jeff Gannon was given access to the whitehouse press corps with the intent that he ask questions crafted to assist the whitehouse spokesperson, Scott McClellan, and the president, to give favorable answers which were understood to be the answer to be used by media outlets advocating the Whitehouse's overall public relations plan. This is also an example of advocacy journalism."

again this was all supposed to be objective journalism.

last sentance now reads "These are examples of a highly unethical form of "advocacy journalism" trying to pass itself off as objective news". {{J}|}}

I cleaned this up. -- Beland (talk) 04:00, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Role of the media in a democractic society[edit]

There needs to be a section on this as how it pertains to this issue. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

'Mungo journalism'[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it also called 'Mungo' journalism in Australia? - 09:14 AET 12 April 2006

Examples of Advocacy Journalists[edit]

I think a list at the bottom of a few `advocacy journalists' would help out this article a lot. Listing activist liberal sources like Democracy Now! next to more mainstream or right-wing sources like The Economist would give some perspective and address some of the issues brought up elswhere on this talk page. Spud603 14:09, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

What is so 'activist' about 'Democracy Now!' ..? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:00, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

History Tab[edit]

I'm new enough at editing Wikipedia that I don't feel comfortable deleting it or radically altering it myself right now, but the history tab is a mess. it's incomplete and incorrect. How can the famous muckrakers of the early twentieth century be the "ancestors" of advocacy journalism when, to cite two publications from this article's own example list, the Economist had been published since 1843 and The Nation since 1865? At best the famous muckrakers are early examples of advocacy journalists.Staypuft9 (talk) 18:00, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

The Elephant in the Room[edit]

Why is Fox News not mentioned on this page? I've been all over the world and have had conversations with people all over the world. If Fox News was ever brought up it was unanimously seen as the channel of the Republicans, "Bush, yes?"

More recently one of their charismatic leaders who is also an anchor, Sean Hannity, organized, promoted and spoke at a teabagging convention. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 19:53, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Advocacy journalism is about transparency[edit]

From what I understand of it, advocacy journalism is about explicitly defining where you come from. Hence, I think there must be some preconditions before you can label an outlet or a journalist as such. One of the easier - but not sufficient of course - criteria must be that they THEMSELVES say that they adhere to the standards of advocacy journalism. This does not mean that you can label a partisan outlet or anything that is just not objective as "advocacy journalism". (talk) 21:48, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Unsourced material in need of sourcing[edit]

I've moved the following information here (most of the article, in fact) until it can be properly sourced per WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, et al. Nightscream (talk) 03:46, 26 May 2010 (UTC)


Advocacy journalism is practiced by a broad range of mainstream media outlets and alternative media and special interest publications and programs, but might also apply to a single article in an otherwise-neutral publication, such as political stories in Rolling Stone; there are also "advocacy journals", or "alternative publications", which are marketed to target groups based on their interests or biases, for example:

Perspectives from advocacy journalists[edit]

One writer for the "alternative" journalism collaborative, the Independent Media Center, writes the following in a call to action:

Classic tenets of journalism call for objectivity and neutrality. These are antiquated principles no longer universally observed.... We must absolutely not feel bound by them. If we are ever to create meaningful change, advocacy journalism will be the single most crucial element to enable the necessary organizing. It is therefore very important that we learn how to be successful advocacy journalists. For many, this will require a different way of identifying and pursuing goals.[1]

In an April 2000 address to the Canadian Association of Journalists, Sue Careless gave the following commentary and advice to advocacy journalists, which seeks to establish a common view of what journalistic standards the genre should follow:[2]

  • Acknowledge your perspective up front.
  • Be truthful, accurate, and credible. Don't spread propaganda, don't take quotes or facts out of context, "don't fabricate or falsify", and "don't judge or suppress vital facts or present half-truths"
  • Don't give your opponents equal time, but don't ignore them, either.
  • Explore arguments that challenge your perspective, and report embarrassing facts that support the opposition. Ask critical questions of people who agree with you.
  • Avoid slogans, ranting, and polemics. Instead, "articulate complex issues clearly and carefully."
  • Be fair and thorough.
  • Make use of neutral sources to establish facts.

Sue Careless also criticized the mainstream media for unbalanced and politically biased coverage, for economic conflicts of interest, and for neglecting certain public causes. She said that alternative publications have advantages in independence, focus, and access, which make them more effective public-interest advocates than the mainstream media.


The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP, was founded in 1910. It describes itself as inheriting the tradition of advocacy journalism from Freedom's Journal,[3] which began in 1827 as "the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States."[4]

Muckrakers are often claimed as the professional ancestors of modern advocacy journalists; for example: Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, and I.F. Stone.

French newspapers Libération, Charlie Hebdo, Le Canard Enchaîné and L'Humanité all recuse what they consider pseudo-objective journalism for a purposeful explicited political stance on events. They oppose Le Monde neutral style, which doesn't impede it, according to those critics, from dissimulating various events or from abstaining to speak about certain subjects. On the other side, a newspaper like Le Figaro clearly assumes its conservative stance and pool of readers.


Advocacy journalists may reject the principle of objectivity in their work for several different reasons.

Many believe that there is no such thing as objective reporting, that there will always be some form of implicit bias, whether political, personal, or metaphysical, whether intentional or subconscious. This is not necessarily a rejection of the existence of an objective reality, merely a statement about our inability to report on it in a value-free fashion. This may sound like a radical idea, but many mainstream journalists accept the philosophical idea that pure "objectivity" is impossible, but still seek to minimize bias in their work. Other journalistic standards, such as balance, and neutrality, may be used to describe a more practical kind of "objectivity".

"Alternative" critics often charge that the mainstream's media claims of being "bias free" are harmful because they paper over inevitable (often subconscious) biases. They also argue that media sources claiming to be free of bias often advance certain political ideas which are disguised in a so-called "objective" viewpoint. These critics contend that the mainstream media reinforce majority-held ideas, marginalizing dissent and retarding political and cultural discourse.

The proposed solution is to make biases explicit, with the intention of promoting transparency and self-awareness that better serves media consumers. Advocacy journalists often assume that their audiences will share their biases (especially in politically charged alternative media), or will at least be conscious of them while evaluating what are supposed to be well-researched and persuasive arguments.

Some who believe that objective (or balanced, neutral, etc.) reporting is possible, or that it is a laudable goal, do not find that striving for objectivity is always an appropriate goal, perhaps depending on the publication and the purpose at hand. For example, it might be argued that when attempting to expose a waste, corruption, or abuse, a neutral position would "get in the way" of the exposition, and a "bias" against this kind of criminal activity would be quite acceptable to the intended audience.

Many advocacy journalists claim that they can reject objectivity while holding on to the goals of fairness and accuracy, and claim that corporate journalists often lack both.

Investigative reporting[edit]

In some instances, advocacy journalism is the same as investigative journalism and muckraking, where these serve the public interest and the public's right to know. Investigative reports often focus on criminal or unethical activity, or aim to advance a generally accepted public interest, such as government accountability, alleviation of human suffering, etc. It might be argued[by whom?] that the journalist is assuming a point of view that public action is warranted to change the situation being described. The most famous example of this was Edward R. Murrow's See it Now series of reports on Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Criticism of advocacy journalism[edit]

Professional journalists and members of the public critical of the term assert that reporting without objectivity (termed "editorializing" or "sensationalizing") is bad journalism, and does not serve the public interest.[citation needed]

The term might also indicate a serious breach of journalistic canons and standards, such as rumor mongering, yellow journalism, sensationalism or other ethically flawed reportage[citation needed] — for example, the 2004 revelations created by a press leak in the Plame affair, where a leak was alleged to be used to help an office holder's political position. (However, a critic of that politician, publicly admitted to being the source of that leak, not the politician in question.[5])

Some fear the activity of "advocacy journalists" will be harmful to the reputation of the mainstream press as an objective, reliable source of information. Another concern is that undiscriminating readers will accept the facts and opinions advanced in advocacy pieces as if they were objective and representative, becoming unknowingly and perhaps dangerously misinformed as a result.

Advocacy journalists vary in their response to these criticisms. Some believe that mainstream and "alternative" outlets serve different purposes, and sometimes different audiences entirely, and that the difference is readily apparent to the public.[citation needed] Many believe that the mainstream press is not an objective and reliable source of information, and so doesn't deserve the reputation it seeks to maintain.[citation needed]
  1. ^ Berman, Dave. "Advocacy Journalism, The Least You Can Do, and The No Confidence Movement." 29 June 2004. Independent Media Center.
  2. ^ Charles, Sue. "Advocacy journalism" The Interim, May 2000. Rules and advice for advocacy journalists.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Armitage Says He Was Source of CIA Leak