Monday, I wrote about trucks and the New York Times reporters who are mystified about the Texans who own them. Being a truck-owning Texan, the NYT piece translated as a sociological study into the faraway culture of truck ownership. The problem? Everyone owns trucks and not just in Texas. Well, everyone but journalists, own trucks.
So John Ekdahl asked this on Twitter last night:
The top 3 best selling vehicles in America are pick-ups. Question to reporters: do you personally know someone that owns one?
— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) January 4, 2017
Read the whole thread of responses from offended journalists. It’s hilarious. It’s also pathetic. Journalists have become the very creatures they claim to loathe: insulated, provincial rubes.
Here’s a radical thought: perhaps it’s the journalists who lack diversity–of thought, experience, and background.
People who live in the ‘burbs or in rural areas travel to urban centers. They vacation in NY and DC. They do business in cities near them. They’re exposed to ideas and experiences outside their normal “bubble.” How often do NY and DC journalists interact with ideas and experiences outside their bubbles?
How many people do they know own pick-up trucks?
No one is saying not to ride the subway or drive a Prius. But it is silly when a writer from one city for the supposed paper of record writes about most of the country as if they’re a strange woodland species.
How to fix this?
- Hire writers outside of DC and NY.
- Let said writers live outside DC and NY.
- Make sure at least 50%, preferably more, of the staff live outside DC and NY.
- Hire writers educated at places other than Ivies.
- Hire writers with overt conservative bent.
- Attempt to keep organizational ideology at fifty-fifty parity between left and right-leaning.
The real lack of diversity has become ideological and experiential.
Feeling guilty because the organization missed a Trump election? Perhaps sending the guys who missed it into the mists of Texas isn’t the solution. The solution could be to find a crazy native and let him or her report from the hinterlands, aka home.
The City Mouse – Country Mouse divide is as old as time. What’s new is that with a small nucleus controlling vast amounts of media (Facebook news filterers, NYT editors, Twitterati from the networks and news orgs), one point of view prevails over others in a time when it needn’t be that way.
Technology has democracized media. Media consumers educate themselves, and have, with alternative media sources. They’ve done this because the gatekeepers show them contempt. With technology, the gatekeepers could earn back respect and influence by employing local reporters and then highlighting the stories nationally.
It’s unlikely these news sources want to change. They like their sanctimonious perches and giving up chortling at the expense at those different from them would be no fun.
So, provincialism, it is, then. The country is worse for it.
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