Does Journalism = Activism?

I just read this piece by conservative Christian Rod Dreher commenting on this story by Anthony Borrelli and Katie Sullivan Borrelli in the Ithaca Journal newspaper. Dreher says that this is tantamount to the Ithaca Journal getting permission from a commissar, which makes the story propaganda for the LGBTQ agenda. Is Dreher right about this?

Conservatives in the U.S. have long said that the media has a liberal bias. Of course, liberals will quickly retort that facts have a liberal bias. Though clever, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Dreher links to this article showing that around 2011 the New York Times seemed to jump on the Woke bandwagon:

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Dreher says of the article in the Ithaca Journal:

As a general rule, I regard every piece of mainstream journalism about any topic related to LGBT issues as propaganda. Again, I don’t mean “propaganda” in the sense that it’s false, but propaganda in the sense that it is the marshaling of facts to advocate for a particular pre-decided point of view. [emphasis his – TH]

Dreher was responding to this part of the Ithaca Journal story:

As a matter of ethical principle, we generally do not allow outside sources to review our work before publication. In this case, however, we felt the need to tell Josie’s story in the fairest, most accurate way possible over-ruled that policy. We turned to Luca Maurer, Ithaca College’s Center for LGBTQ Education, Outreach and Services director, who in addition to being an expert voice also knew Josie personally.

The accusations go the other way as well, with places like Vox and The New Yorker calling Fox News ‘state run media’ for their uncritical support of Trump.

I think it’s clear that particular media outlets have strong political biases. Does that mean they’re all just propaganda machines? In an environment of hyper-partisanship, where all media outlets act as advocacy groups pushing a narrative, where can one go to get the truth?

My worry, when it comes to biased reporting, isn’t always the lies being told. It’s what is being left out of the story – lies of omission. That’s why I try looking at a broad range of outlets. Even if all of them are propaganda, at least I’m getting everyone’s spin – and therefore, hopefully, finding the parts of the story one side has left out because it didn’t fir their narrative.

It still requires a bit of cynicism to just assume that everyone is lying to you, either by omission or making false claims. As cynical as people seem to be about the ‘other side,’ it’s often astonishing how credulous they are about their own ‘side’ (the fact that people have a ‘side’ to which they are more loyal than they are the truth is disheartening by itself). I think this is the crux of the problem. People continue enthusiastically supporting anyone willing to spoon feed them a narrative that fits their preconceived notions.

Confirming our biases feels good. It’s like a drug. Probably the U.S.’s – or perhaps the entire Western World’s – biggest and most pernicious drug epidemic. Whatever the proximate cause of humanty’s ultimate demise may be, the primary cause will be our own human nature.

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