There are a few of us left today that remember the heyday of journalism, when we sought to be witnesses to history and to give readers perspective on events unfolding.
Those days are gone.
We ascribed to the idea that there is no truth, that objectivity was impossible.
How then to tell a story? How do we make a story comprehensible to the reader?
Our solution was to present both sides and let readers judge for themselves.
If you go back to newspapers from the ‘70s and ‘80s, you can see that quite clearly in news stories.
There was a clear demarcation between news stories and opinion pieces.
Editorializing – the injection of opinion – into a news story was frowned upon. You presented both sides of a story as factually as you could.
There was an editorial page that presented the views of the newspaper management and an opposite editorial page that presented other views.
It was liberalism at its best.
Those days are gone.
Today, reporters routinely inject their opinion into stories.
The current generation of journalists has absolutely no respect for liberal traditions. They see themselves as advocates and not witnesses.
All of this stems from a desire to do good. Convinced that their view of the world is correct, that they possess truth, they are bound and determined to present stories that “prove” they are right and will not tolerate opinions that run counter to their own.
Thus we see outright rebellion among the ranks of young journalists today when opinion pieces challenge their beliefs.
So when Rex Murphy, a columnist for the National Post writes Canada is not racist country, there is a demand to silence him.
So much so, that the paper’s editors inserted an editor’s note at the top of the column which still appears online that now says the column was published in error and that future lapses will not happen again.
In the old days, when readers or even fellow journalists disagreed with this or that column or editorial, they were invited to submit an opposing view.
Those days are gone evidently.
The tragedy in all this is that by refusing to listen to opposing views, to views that challenge our beliefs, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to gain a better understanding of issues.