Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stephen Hunter on Defining Journalism Down

For many years, Stephen Hunter served as the film critic for the Washington Post. His reviews were almost uniformly witty, well-informed, and quite helpful to anyone considering purchasing a ticket to the latest over-hyped Hollywood movie fantasy. Hunter left the Post some time ago as that paper, along with nearly every other, sought to cut payroll by buying out their senior writers (aka age discrimination).

Whatever the case, Hunter had other fish to fry and remains an active writer and novelist. But I was struck by some commentary he contributed today to the Power Line blog. It revealed something I'd long suspected but never knew. He was one of few closet conservatives at the paper. (Music critic Tim Page was yet another, although more libertarian really.)

Hunter wrote perceptively today about the relentlessly subtle pressure on young journalists to conform to a certain lefty Party Line. Penned, surprisingly, without any rancor at all, Hunter's comments are all the more effective, a subtle yet perfect damnation of the timid journalistic culture that condemns all who toil in its vineyards to follow what is increasingly becoming known as "The Narrative": a left-wing, wishy-washy liberal, anti-US, anti-capitalist line that denigrates anyone who makes money, lives in flyover country, or goes to church and actually believes in God. We've written about it here many times. It's sort of like a set of new sacred texts.

Money grafs:

This is what so many young reporters don't get. Their commitment to an agenda, subconsciously or not , distorts the way they see reality. Thus when they say "We are not biased," they honestly believe that. They are reporting what they see, but are oblivious to the fact that they are viewing it from a platform that they take for granted.
Thus, for them, reform is always good, change is always good, its avatars are always noble if not heroic. Anyone who fights against change is always bad, even evil. There are sacred cows: environmentalism, anti-racism, global warming, a whole litany of assumed truths that form the bedrock of how they perceive reality, after their education and their immersion in newsroom culture.
I call it "the Narrative" and it takes on the force of the actual in many journalist's minds, and it perverts the reporting of the news.
Read the whole thing here. Trust me. It's worth your time. Good writing and great insights.

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