The Washington Post is being tossed into the dustbin of history. Here’s why.
When I was checking the news this morning, I happened across an article in The Washington Post by Joshua Partlow entitled “Guatemala and Honduras sided with Trump on Jerusalem. Here’s why.”
Before proceeding any further about this piece of “journalism”, I must emphasize that this is not about the content of the article. There will be no discussion of the UN vote, nor any argument about the pros and cons of President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
This is about the process of ostensible news reporting in The Washington Post and other esteemed outlets of the dying legacy media. How the news is selected, concocted, shaded, and spun to guide the public to opinions and conclusions that are considered correct by Those Who Know Better.
This is the first paragraph of Mr. Partlow’s article:
MEXICO CITY — Amid the roar of condemnation over the Trump administration’s stance on Jerusalem, there were bleats of support from far-flung corners of the world. [emphasis added]
This is a news story, mind you, not an op-ed. “News analysis” is probably the full description, but it’s not an opinion article. It’s supposed to contain facts, plus logical conclusions drawn directly from those facts. If this were actual journalism, the reporter’s feelings about the facts and conclusions would not be allowed to intrude into the flow of his prose. There would be no tendentious, loaded words inserted into the text to signal to the lumpenreader how he is supposed to feel about the opposing political positions described in the story.
Now let’s suppose The Washington Post were not published by an exquisitely Progressive outfit. Let’s imagine that it held the opposite opinions. And I don’t mean those held by The Washington Times, nor any other publication cranked out by what Matt Bracken calls “Conservative Inc.”, but truly dissenting opinions. Here’s an alternate version of that first paragraph using tendentious words weighted in the opposite direction:
MEXICO CITY — Amid the screeches of condemnation over the Trump administration’s stance on Jerusalem, there were resonant declarations of support from far-flung corners of the world.
This would give Joe Prole an entirely different message about which position he should be supporting.
And, as a refreshing change, here is the paragraph as it should be written, without any weighted vocabulary designed to push the reader in one direction or another. Just the facts, ma’am:
MEXICO CITY — Amid the chorus of condemnation over the Trump administration’s stance on Jerusalem, there were voices of support from far-flung corners of the world.
“Voices” and “chorus” are equally neutral. The word “chorus” simply implies that there are more opponents than the few supporters implied by “voices”. Which are exactly the facts of the situation described.
When I write a polemic, it’s clearly marked as such. There’s no sly pretense that I don’t have a strong opinion. My editorial prose is packed with tendentious, loaded words, filled with invective, a confection of passionately held beliefs, often accompanied by the Ranting Man just to make sure everyone gets the idea.
But when I write a simple news account — such as those that we occasionally produce when we live-blog an event — I strive to make my descriptions as factual as possible and eschew any opinions. I assume our readers are intelligent and perspicacious enough to be able to assess the facts and draw their own conclusions.
In a properly-managed newspaper, if a news reporter were to slip and let his opinions color his description of events, he would have a copy editor who is supposed to catch such gaffes and remove or replace them. Above the copy editor would be managing editors and all the other layers of redaction put in place to provide quality control over what eventually goes to press.
The fact that The Washington Post could let such a jejune lead paragraph appear in one of its “news” articles is yet another indication of why the paper is so rapidly circling the cultural drain, en route to the Great Sump.