At the heart of journalism, theoretically, is the pursuit of the truth. If a journalist appears to have an opinion about a subject, well, that journalist can't be trusted to report the truth because he is no longer objective.
Take, for example, the case of Larry Conners of KMOV. Conners said that he may have been targeted by the IRS after a tough April 2012 interview with President Obama. For going public, he lost his job.
For KMOV, there is no higher cause than unbiased, objective news reporting. It is what our viewers expect and it is what we work very hard to deliver. We can accept no less. Larry is certainly entitled to his opinion, but taking a personal political position on one of the Station's Facebook pages creates an appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards.
Journalistic standards hold that any appearance of bias undermines the core mission of presenting to the truth to the news agency's viewers and readers.
One problem--it's impossible to cover newsmakers and events without forming personal opinions about it.
That leads to an interesting result--the truth is so important to the journalism profession that journalists must hide the fact that they have opinions. To be real truth tellers, they must hide the truth about their own biases.
Of course, it's perfectly fine to have biases. It's impossible not to. Like the rest of us, journalists have opinions, they get into the same political debates we do with relatives at Thanksgiving, and they vote for candidates they like and not for ones they don't.
When it comes to their reporting, however, they suddenly pretend none of that exists. For the sake of the truth, they cover that up.
Instead of pretending they don't have opinions, why not just disclose them, the way a financial reporter discloses if they own a certain stock their story is about? If a reporter does a story on a political event, we're supposed to be kept in the dark what that person thinks about the participants in that event?
If I could flip a switch and see the political preferences of a given newsroom, I'd find that the objectivity-inducing journalism standards result in one political persuasion outnumbered by the other four to one.
Were it all exposed to sunlight--and don't journalists love sunlight--unbalanced newsrooms would feel compelled to balance out the staff and the coverage on their own, resulting in a better product for the public.