Friday, February 5, 2021

A Narrative About Narrative Journalism

                                         Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

This is:
 A weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids 
and my great-grandkids — the Stickies — to advise them and haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — A Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. Viewing with a tablet or a monitor is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment.

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Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"One of our worst traits in journalism is that when we have a narrative in our minds, we often plug in anecdotes that confirm it." -Nicholas Kristof

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

Narratives, the word itself as well as what it describes, are popping up here, there, and even over there. They are currently trending (as is, come to think of it, the word trending).

A narrative, according to Merriam-Webster definition 1-b, is "a way of presenting or understanding a situation or series of events that reflects and promotes a particular point of view or set of values."  

This is a scholarly way of describing a story that has a particular spin, just one of the reasons modern journalism is a mess. 

[Could you be a little more vague.]  

Bear with me, Dana, I'm working my way towards a very specific example of what I'm talking about. 

[That's refreshing.]

Very long story short, 

Wokism (Social Justism + Neo-Marxism) + Postmodernism = Faux News. 

[Justism? Wokism? Faux news?] 

Much to my surprise, I discovered that justism is considered to be an actual word by some people. As to its meaning... well, it refers to seeking justice for everyone... all the time... in all things... constantly. If ya don't have a higher power in your life find a rigid ideology to fill in the hole in your soul. 

Wokism is considered to be a religion by at least one guy other besides me, and Faux News is... everywhere. The equation above requires its own column, make that a lengthy essay, to unpack. 

Suffice it to say that the current version of Progressivism, more accurately called Wokism — now considered to be divinely revealed dogma at no shortage of colleges/universities — has climbed over the ivy-covered walls, is spreading across the real world, and is choking off Journalistic Ethics.

[You capitalize words that aren't s'posed to be capitalized like...]

You should know by now that I'm a firm believer in Situational Capitalization. 

[That's not even a thing...]

Maybe, maybe not, but: 

It's my column and I'll Capitalize if I want to
Italicize if I want to...   

(The writer clears his throat) Sorry, folks, your humble correspondent also has a thing for obscure cultural references.  

Anyways, there's no shortage of alleged journalists loose in the world that think that so-called facts are always a matter of interpretation and striving for objectivity is silly (postmodernism), particularly given that the end (social justice) not only justifies the means it's the whole point of journalism and everything else. 


Screw the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists — for example: "Label advocacy and commentary" (my emphasis)  — Justism must be served!  

[Didn't you say something about a specific example?]

As I've stated elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal is my personal paper of record. The WSJ reports the news, for the most part, objectively and factually although not quite as well as they used to and now I know why. More on that in just a sec'.

I pay a relatively hefty subscription fee because relying on social media and/or other "free," and often revenue starved advert-supported sites, for accurate news is another one of the reasons journalism is a mess. 

The primary reason I pay the fee is for access to the staff columnists (and guest writers) on the world's best op-ed page. The Journal's paywall permits sharing these columns via social media which I do regularly on Mr. Cranky's Facebook page.

I wonder if any of my regular readers take the trouble to share my columns?

[When pray tell, can we expect the specific example you mentioned.]

I'll be right back, I'm going to pour myself a fresh cup of coffee

[Speaking of ethics...] 

Now, I've been aware of tinges of leftish, narrative journalism appearing in the WSJ for quite some time. Maybe it's just me? Perhaps it's just the editors slightly indulging newly minted journalists while simultaneously subtly steering them towards real journalism?  

However, there was a tempest in a teapot last summer that most of you, having actual lives, may not have heard about. 

A group of "more than 280 reporters, editors, and other employees" -WSJ, (the paper employees about 7,000 people) signed a letter objecting to how the editorial pages are run. 

F.Y.I., news and opinion constitute two different divisions of the paper and are run by different people. The letter calls for the paper to go to more trouble to point out the difference between the news and opinion articles. 

In my semi-humble opinion, anyone reading the WSJ that can't tell the difference between the clearly marked opinion pages and news articles is probably not smart enough to remember to...

[Hey! Choose to be the gentleperson!]

Also, they want to Unleash the Fact-Checkers! on one of the few surviving unabashedly and unashamedly conservative/libertarian op-ed departments in a mainstream newspaper.

Although the quality of the writing is world-class, click-baiting headlines virtually unknown, and pieces by left-wing guest writers are commonplace they want the page, three pages actually, "fact-checked." 

I smell a rat. 

In case you're unaware (that have an actual life thing again), a bit of googlin' will reveal that alleged fact-checking is often just editorializing by a different name, and that fact-checkers nowadays are fact-checking fact-checkers. 

That is to say, Narrative Journalism, on steroids.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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