Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level





Rob Wells

Committee Member

Gerald Jordan

Second Committee Member

Niketa Reed


activism, advocacy, criminal justice, social impact, investigative journalism, mainstream media, nonprofit, objectivity, social change


The aim of this study was to question the objectivity norm that arose in journalism in the 20th century, and analyze what objectivity means today in the context of investigative journalism. This study examined the mission statements and objectives of the investigative nonprofits The Marshall Project and Injustice Watch, which are two publications with specific mission statements that cover the United States criminal justice system. The examination of these nonprofits helps explore a question of where the line is drawn between journalism and activism. The researcher interviewed 25 journalists from mainstream media outlets, the nonprofits discussed above, and other investigative nonprofit publications and foundations. Findings of the study show that nearly every journalist believes that objectivity is not an achievable concept, and each individual had a different definition or concept that they follow. The findings also showed that a large majority of mainstream journalists believe that “activism journalism” can and does exist in the newsrooms, while many nonprofit writers outright rejected the concept. The conclusion supports the idea that journalism is continuously evolving, building off of what it once was before the objectivity norm came about, and that journalists can and should have a social impact on society without being considered advocates.