Writes Jenny Holland:
Journalism’s brief period of objectivity was an interregnum between the rough-and-tumble newspaper class wars of the early 20th century and whatever you want to call the pantomime hellscape of today. Now, that period of objectivity is officially dead and buried. It is clear from Downie’s article that the industry has been wholly captured. What used to be thought of as a workman-like job, in which you dug up facts and presented them to your readership, has been taken over by an elite clique of pampered millennials. Members of this clique went to all the same schools and have all the same opinions. Their sworn mission is to make sure their shrinking readership knows how ideologically pure they are. Factual reality – once the king of the newsroom – doesn’t come into the equation. The king is dead. Long live the king.
There is a silver lining in this op-ed, and I found it in the comments. Judging from the people commenting under the piece, even the ultra-liberal, vote-blue-no-matter-who readers of the Washington Post were not buying what Downie was trying to sell them.
One commenter wrote:
‘What’s really happening is young reporters are using emotional blackmail and not-very-sophisticated [postmodern] sophistry to excuse themselves from professional standards. I understand why new reporters would like to be liberated from dull, but necessary, professional standards, but I don’t understand why the grown-ups go along with it to the detriment of their profession.’
The biggest problem with journalists may not even be their recent swing to the left, their intolerance of differing opinions or their backstabbing newsrooms – all characteristics of younger, woke media staff. Instead, the biggest blindspot for journalists of generations new and old is their tendency to vastly overestimate their own importance, and vastly underestimate just how few people share their outlook outside their media bubbles.
I’m not sure this last conclusion is quite right. Journalists do not “vastly overestimate their own importance”. Among the “few people that share their outlook” are the vast majority of the policy makers. And that is all that matters.