Features

Color me liberal

National | Newspaper editors should judge not by the color of the reporters, but by the content of their stories

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 1998," Dec. 5, 1998

As if contemporary journalism, with its rank and unarguable biases, had not already done enough to ruin its credibility in the eyes of many Americans, the industry is sinking deeper into denial with an incorrect diagnosis of why it is losing viewers and, in some cases, readers. After six months of "intensive discussions" about numerical representation of various ethnic and racial groups in the newsroom, the American Society of Newspaper Editors has agreed that "the nation's newsrooms must reflect the racial diversity of American society by 2025 or sooner." Not a word was said about the need to reflect the nation's ideological diversity because much of the press labors under an Alfred E. Neuman philosophy of, "What, me biased?" A Nov. 8 New York Times story reveals there are at least five groups that promote the "interests" of journalists of varied ethnic backgrounds. There's an overall coalition called "Unity: Journalists of Color" that believes minority journalists have common goals and that the various shadings of skin color ought to be grouped to advance those goals. There is nothing said about a goal of improving the quality of journalism and reporting, or getting the facts straight or telling the truth. Only, apparently, about pushing agendas. Under the multicolored umbrella of the coalition are the National Association of Black Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. A story was written about these groups because of a controversy that developed over Washington state's Initiative 200, a ballot measure that passed overwhelmingly in the Nov. 3 election and which bans race or sex preference in state contracts, education, and employment. Some minority journalists wanted to boycott the state and hold a planned convention elsewhere. They changed their minds when a majority of Unity members determined that more Seattle voters had opposed the initiative than had favored it. "Diversity" is thought to be of such importance by certain elites that the Ford Foundation donated $500,000 to Unity. Jon Funabiki, a program officer for the foundation, said that minority journalists "are the foot soldiers of diversity." Given the one-sided nature of much contemporary journalism, especially broadcast journalism, it is difficult to understand the thinking of those who believe the addition of more blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans will improve ratings. What possible difference does it make if the same ideas are coming from the minds and mouths of people with varying hues of skin color and other physical differences? If most of journalism supports a liberal Democrat view of the world, what difference will it make in ratings and credibility if that liberalism comes from the mouth or from the pen of an African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Asian journalist? A liberal is a liberal no matter what his makeup. True diversity would be represented in story selection, ideological balance and the diverse beliefs of America. It would be a journalism that not only looks like America, but also believes like Americans. The real discrimination is not over race. It is over belief. Every network anchor believes the same thing. Every cable show pumps out the same ideology. America's biggest newspapers editorialize in favor of abortion rights, gay rights, big government, no tax cuts, more regulation, and increased government spending. Real diversity would include not only faces of different colors, but also different shadings of belief. That kind of journalism would restore the faith of the disaffected in the profession and would improve ratings and circulation. But don't look for it to happen any time soon because, with rare exceptions (such as the Fox News Channel on which I occasionally labor), the Left is so into denial it would rather shut the door and turn the light off than to open up the field to beliefs other than its own.
© 1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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