Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Two rules journalists live by: Keep things simple and straightforward and be fair to “both sides.”

The first rule has always been with us, and it has many salutary aspects, but as journalism has evolved it has come to serve different purposes. Today, as truth itself is under attack and our most important institutions suffer harassment merely for trying to do a good job, the “keep it simple” decree is, as much as anything, understood to be a shield: Its purpose now is to ensure that everyone who reads or hears a given news report can understand it and is not put off by the snooty or, worse, “elitist” attitude of the highly educated, big-city, cabernet-sipping journalist who looks down his nose at God-fearing, hardworking, patriotic Americans. The second rule serves a similar, albeit parallel, purpose: If “both sides” are quoted equally, then the journalist cannot easily be accused of favoring one over the other. It does not matter if one of the sides happens to be crazy, or lying or racist or whatever. That’s up to the reader to decide.

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