For many of us current and former freelancers, Tara Henley’s description of why she left her job as a CBC producer and on-air columnist sounded all too familiar. But for people not ensconced inside the media bubble it may have been shocking to hear just how far standards have plummeted.
Henley did not mince her words.
— Tara Henley (@TaraRHenley) January 3, 2022
“When I started at the national public broadcaster in 2013, the network produced some of the best journalism in the country. By the time I resigned last month, it embodied some of the worst trends in mainstream media. In a short period of time, the CBC went from being a trusted source of news to churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press.”
Today’s outlets are so partisan that one could be excused for thinking the landscape had always been this way, but before FOX News launched in 1996 journalism was vastly different. Sure, you had conservatives who railed against the dreaded liberal media for not relaying news stories through a conservative lens, but by and large journalism was still an exercise of fact-finding and reporting.
For all the posturing witnessed after FOX News launched; journalists railing against the blatant biases and open cheerleading for conservatives/Republicans by FOX personalities, the response has been a sharp turn to the left for many if not most media outlets in North America. MSNBC has turned its network into the media wing of the democratic party, and print outlets who were struggling to stay alive began to follow suit.
Today, as Henley points out in her article, “To work at the CBC in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.”
Henley continues, “It is to sign on, enthusiastically, to a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms that monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions. It is to pretend that the “woke” worldview is near universal — even if it is far from popular with those you know, and speak to, and interview, and read.”
I’ve been in similar situations before. When I was a contributor for The Huffington Post, I wrote a piece detailing the extremists on the left and right. My editor, some plucky child right out of college, sent the piece back to me. He had left every charge against the insolent right-wing alone, and asked me to verify all of the charges leveled against the hard left, all without even blinking.
The culture inside journalism feels more like activism, where left wing orthodoxy is the starting point, and any deviation from that home base will be met with finger-wagging, lectures, and often a termination letter.
Is there hope for journalism? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that if more journalists like Henley come out against their editorial overlords, the better journalism will be.