The Importance of Objectivity


Foreign Affairs Review

Eliza Schwartz '24, Staff Writer

The New York Times and Fox News, two renowned, and politically opposite sources, discussed Puerto Rico and their recovery relief after the devastating Hurricane Fiona. Although the sources cover the same event, their description of what occurred dramatically changes the focus of the story, which in turn, changes the narrative. The fact that two people can read about the same event and have dramatically different perspectives raises the question: is it our responsibility as readers to make sure we are getting the true, objective story? 

The New York Times uses emotionalism to their advantage in order to cater to their traditionally left-leaning demographic. In the article, headlined “Biden Says Puerto Rico Will Get ‘Every Single Dollar Promised’ for Recovery,” the author, Katie Rogers, uses emotionalism to attract readers. Emotionalism is the presentation of information in a way that gives a shock or makes a deep impression. This headline elicits emotionalism as the reader feels hope and promise, and it offers empathy for those who suffered as a result of Hurricane Fiona.

While the story focuses mostly on the trip to the territory, it is hard to deny the targeted political undertones: “Ahead of Mr. After Biden’s arrival in Puerto Rico, the White House announced that the territory would receive $60 million … The Biden administration had removed many of the restrictions on federal aid that Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, put into place during his presidency.” The inclusion of this quotation changes the tone of the story as it highlights President Biden’s approach to recovery aid in contrast to former President Trump’s approach during Hurricane Maria in 2017. Additionally, the political tone of the article is further emphasized through the use of emotionalism:“He [Trump] continued to lash out at Puerto Rico throughout his presidency”. The use of the phrase “lash out” depicts former President Trump in a negative, angry light. Despite one’s view on certain news sources, whatever media a reader uses ultimately impacts the narrative they are getting. 

In contrast to the New York Times story, Fox News uses a different journalistic method called slant to promote their political narrative. Fox News headlined their article “Biden says he was raised around Puerto Ricans ‘at home politically’ during visit to see Hurricane Fiona damage.” This title employs slant, which is a type of media bias that describes when journalists tell only part of a story, or when they highlight, focus on, or play up one particular angle or piece of information. The use of slant highlights Biden’s connection to being raised around Puerto Ricans which diminishes the actual story, which is the impact of the hurricane. 

On the surface, the Fox article neutrally describes the events and impacts of the recent hurricane; however, subtle slant plays a role in shaping the reader’s narrative politically. The article references Biden’s remarks: “We have a very… large Puerto Rican population in Delaware, I was sort of raised in the Puerto Rican community at home, politically. We came here for a long time as part of both business and pleasure.” Biden’s statement to show his sympathy to Puerto Ricans may be accurate but as it is written in the article, portrays Biden in a negative light, as his comment appears to be disingenuous. By showing a specific angle of the story, it changes the focus and highlights different aspects in contrast to other news sites. 

Media has the power to influence public opinion drastically. Therefore, it is important to keep journalism objective so that the reader is able to draw their own conclusions. As seen in both articles, despite telling the same story, the narrative is entirely different. As media stories continue to be biased, readers should read across a variety of sources to make themselves aware of multiple perspectives and narratives, therefore being able to get the whole story.