Some people read comic books for laughs. I read a newspaper trade
journal called Editor & Publisher.
It’s a habit I picked up during my nearly 20 years of experience
running daily newspapers. Editor & Publisher is the only place to turn
to find out which old news people have turned up dead or been arrested
on morals charges. But mostly, I read it for laughs.
Editor & Publisher is chronicling the suicide of an industry. And as
much as I loved the old media while I was a part of it, it’s gone now.
It is a mere vestige of its former proud self. It is little more than a
corpse that doesn’t know it has died — that its time is past. Editor &
Publisher presents the industry with first aid tips when what it really
needs is electro-cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
Here’s a recent example.
Under the headline, “Making newspapers more open to minorities,”
Editor & Publisher lectured the industry about hiring practices.
“News organizations have had difficulty balancing the desire to have
a diverse work force with the myth of equal opportunity,” explains Keith
Woods, an associate in ethics at the Poynter Institute for Media
Studies. “They are constantly in this conflict with themselves, trying
to do something that bolsters the hiring and employment numbers of
racial and ethnic groups while at the same time holding to the idea that
this is a meritocracy, and everybody should be treated equally.”
In other words, this pointy-headed racist suggests blacks and other
members of racial minorities can’t compete on an even playing field for
jobs and promotions, so they need special treatment, kid-glove handling,
affirmative action, racial preferences.
Woods, who I bet has never worked in a real, competitive newsroom in
his life, says newspapers have to stop thinking of “diversity” as a
luxury and begin considering it a basic journalistic necessity.
“The attitude that you don’t need any other understanding of your
world beyond the one you have is asinine,” Woods says. “Every single day
you are reporting on a diverse world. If you don’t have examples of that
diversity in your world, then it is all the more important to seek it
out. … If you want to tell people the truth, if you want to give them
an authentic rendering of news, then you must acknowledge the
differences. You can’t accomplish truth and accuracy without diversity.”
One more quote from this genius: “If you go to a minority job fair
and find that only three people measure up to your standards, then ask
yourself, ‘What’s wrong with my standards?’”
Now, to be honest, there’s a grain of truth in what Woods and his
agenda-driven collaborators at Editor & Publisher have to say about
diversity. One of the reasons newspapers are dying is because they are
not reflective of the communities or the nation they cover. But it’s not
a question of having enough black or brown faces in the newsroom. It’s a
question of philosophical and ideological diversity. There is none. In
most newsrooms today, everyone thinks alike — white, brown, black, red,
yellow or mixed.
The only kind of affirmative action program that might have a chance
of succeeding in the modern corporate newsroom would be one in which
conservatives, libertarians, Christians, Republicans and other
endangered species in the media world were actively and respectfully
recruited. It will never happen. Most news agencies would rather close
down — and they will.
And look at the rest of this drivel from Woods: If you can’t find
racial minority applicants that meet your standards, lower your
standards. What a
patronizing, plantation viewpoint. This guy does need help to
distinguish fact from fiction, truth from falsehood.
No wonder the old media are losing viewers and readers.
You might think a trade journal would try to provide an occasional
reality check for an industry in as much trouble as the news business.
Instead, Editor & Publisher simply reinforces all the conventional
wisdom that has been the ruin of one newspaper after another.
And that’s why Editor & Publisher is such a source of amusement for
me. I look forward to each and every issue the way kids once waited
eagerly for Mad magazine to arrive in the mail. In fact, maybe that’s an
idea for a future Editor & Publisher cover illustration — Alfred E.
Newsman. What, me worry?