Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that adopts a non-objective viewpoint, usually for some social or political purpose.
Some advocacy journalists reject the idea that the traditional ideal of objectivity is possible or practical, in part due to the perceived influence of corporate sponsors in advertising. Proponents of advocacy journalism feel that the public interest is better served by a diversity of media outlets with varying points of view, or that advocacy journalism serves a similar role to that of muckraking.
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.
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.
Nineteenth-century American newspapers were often partisan, publishing content that conveyed the opinions of journalists and editors alike. These papers were often used to promote political ideologies and were partisan to certain parties or groups.
The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP, was founded in 1910. It described itself as inheriting the tradition of advocacy journalism from Freedom's Journal, which began in 1827 as "the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States".
The Suffragist newspaper, founded in 1913 by the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, promoted the agenda of the National Woman's Party and was considered the only female political newspaper at the time.
Muckrakers are often claimed as the professional ancestors of modern advocacy journalists; for example: Ida M. Tarbell, Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly, Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, and I.F. Stone.
20th and 21st century advocacy journalists include:
Advocacy journalists may reject the principle of objectivity in their work for several different reasons.
Studies have shown that despite efforts to remain completely impartial, journalism is unable to escape some degree of implicit bias, whether political, personal, or metaphysical, whether intentional or subconscious. This does not necessarily indicate an outright rejection of the existence of an objective reality, but rather recognition of the inability to report on it in a value-free fashion and the controversial nature of objectivity in journalism. Many journalists and scholars accept the philosophical idea of pure "objectivity" as being impossible to achieve,[page needed] but still strive to minimize bias in their work. It is also argued that as objectivity is an impossible standard to satisfy, all types of journalism have some degree of advocacy, whether intentional or not.