Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Communication and Fine Arts announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Alvie Hackle

for the Degree of Master of Arts

October 31, 2018 at 4:30 PM in Meeman Journalism Building, Room 300 (with phone link)

Advisor: David Arant

Your Journalism is Transparent, but is it Complete? Examining Objectivity's Successors

ABSTRACT: Critics have assailed objectivity as a guiding principle of journalists for more than half a century, dismissing its practices as defensive routines or strategic rituals. Since the turn of the millennium, media influencers, from blogging gurus to journalism scholars, have posited transparency as a new ethic for mass media. Meanwhile, substantial completeness, a truth-telling strategy that might more adequately replace objectivity as journalism's core principle, languished in the inner pages of journalism textbooks and received somewhat more attention in public relations. Adopting a version of substantial completeness that also involves the ethical concept of reversibility, the researcher sought to test its potential acceptance by journalists as an ethical principle. Based on a survey targeted to journalists' email addresses in all 50 states, the hypothesis—A majority of American newspaper and newspaper website journalists in 2018 will view substantial completeness as an ethical obligation when it is described in terms of a reversible transaction—is confirmed. Related to this hypothesis, a research question was operationalized to find that most journalists who responded believe that such completeness is possible despite time and space constraints at their publications. The researcher concludes that telling a story that contains all the information the reporter would want to make her or his own decisions if she or he were the reader can be adopted as an active ethical principle. With four additional research questions the study aimed to compare telling a substantially complete story to two forms of disclosure transparency as priorities for journalists, and the preliminary results suggest paths for additional research.