The lockstep political orthodoxy now enforced by so many American news and social media outlets appears to have spread just as widely in Canada. Former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Tara Henley has the story.
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.
Those of us on the inside know just how swiftly — and how dramatically — the politics of the public broadcaster have shifted.
It used to be that I was the one furthest to the left in any newsroom, occasionally causing strain in story meetings with my views on issues like the housing crisis. I am now easily the most conservative, frequently sparking tension by questioning identity politics. This happened in the span of about 18 months. My own politics did not change.
To work at the CBC in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.
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.
To work at the CBC now is to accept the idea that race is the most significant thing about a person, and that some races are more relevant to the public conversation than others. It is, in my newsroom, to fill out racial profile forms for every guest you book; to actively book more people of some races and less of others.
To work at the CBC is to submit to job interviews that are not about qualifications or experience — but instead demand the parroting of orthodoxies, the demonstration of fealty to dogma.
It is to become less adversarial to government and corporations and more hostile to ordinary people with ideas that Twitter doesn’t like.
It is to endlessly document microaggressions but pay little attention to evictions; to spotlight company’s political platitudes but have little interest in wages or working conditions. It is to allow sweeping societal changes like lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and school closures to roll out — with little debate. To see billionaires amass extraordinary wealth and bureaucrats amass enormous power — with little scrutiny. And to watch the most vulnerable among us die of drug overdoses — with little comment.
It is to consent to the idea that a growing list of subjects are off the table, that dialogue itself can be harmful. That the big issues of our time are all already settled.
It is to capitulate to certainty, to shut down critical thinking, to stamp out curiosity. To keep one’s mouth shut, to not ask questions, to not rock the boat.
This, while the world burns.
How could good journalism possibly be done under such conditions? How could any of this possibly be healthy for society?
All of this raises larger questions about the direction that North America is headed. Questions about this new moment we are living through — and its impact on the body politic. On class divisions, and economic inequality. On education. On mental health. On literature, and comedy. On science. On liberalism, and democracy.
There’s more at the link. Ms. Henley will be writing at that Substack link about related matters in future.
It’s worth comparing Ms. Henley’s notes about the CBC to the fare churned out by your local newspaper(s), TV station(s) and other news outlets. If they’re promoting the same “pablum for the masses” she describes, maybe it’s time to drop them altogether and look for more informative, more legitimate sources for news.
I look for news from several sources:
- News outlets from both the left and the right of US and world politics. If a story’s covered extensively by one side, but not at all by the other, I suspect partisanship automatically. If both sides cover it, I’ll assume it’s important, and add my own research on top.
- International as well as national news. Often the additional dimension and perspective added by a foreign viewpoint can highlight details that those who are too close to the issue might ignore.
- The lessons of history. If an area of the world has been a previous flashpoint, that suggests it may become one again. If turmoil and instability have been endemic in an area (e.g. the Middle East) for decades, why should that change overnight?
- I’m very suspicious of unanimity. If all commenters agree that something is the best thing since sliced bread, I start to ask why they’re all in lockstep over it. That suggests they’re parroting someone else’s agenda. (Case in point: the COVID-19 pandemic.)
- I look for local input. Often, if one looks, one can find social media posts by locals about an issue that’s blazoned across the headlines in the news media. Those “boots on the ground” often have a very different perspective to offer.
- I use my experience to up-check or down-check news media based on their previous coverage. If one turns out to be consistently alarmist and negative in their coverage, I generally stop paying attention to it and/or giving it any credibility. (Example: any article by Michael Snyder in Zero Hedge or on any of his blogs.)
When all those sources provide input on a matter, I reckon I’ve got enough of a balance in the coverage that I can make an informed decision.
I’m bothered by people who say that it’s too much trouble to make decisions on that basis – that they don’t have time to look up those things for themselves. One doesn’t have to do that on everything, of course; only on the really important issues, those that may affect one’s way of life or personal security, that sort of thing. If crime is exploding in one’s city and the left and right are arguing over ‘restorative justice’ and ‘reparations’ and ‘defund the police’, I suggest that’s pretty important to one’s future, and one had better be paying attention! On the other hand, if they’re arguing over what color to paint the new overpass on the freeway, I tend to yawn and move on to something worthwhile.
In the same way, the risk of war with China is important – perhaps life-threateningly so. Our diplomatic relations with Upper Boingo are less so.