Those of us who are conservative by temperament do have the tendency to view the past through rose colored glasses. But if the good old days were seldom quite so good as we remember, that does not mean that decline does not exist. It is a mistake to believe that another era was better in all respects, for civilization is an amalgam of sundry aspects of humanity. The Renaissance was a great age for art, but a bad age for morals.
Three recent stories highlight the decline of journalism in our time, and its replacement with something entirely different: advocacy.
First, the hullabaloo over the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the state of Indiana, which I have already written about. Note the manner in which the law was characterized by the press, not only in editorials, but in what passed for news.
Second, the revelation that the story at the heart of Rolling Stone's much vaunted article about rape on college campus was a fabrication. A writer--I will not say journalist--named Sabrina Rubin Erdely shopped around until she found the perfect story to fit her narrative: the preponderance of rape at American universities.
A modicum of journalistic integrity would have demonstrated that this story was fabulous, and a good editor would have prevented its publication. For starters, the lead rapist didn't even exist. But, like the Duke lacrosse non-rape, the story was too good not to publish. Richard Bradley, who helped uncover the hoax, has the details at his site.
Third, the reporting surrounding the controversy over the Hugo awards. For those who are unfamiliar, the Hugos are awarded to science-fiction and fantasy writers. Last year, Larry Correia, of Monster Hunter fame, put up a slate of nominees for the Hugos. His purpose was twofold: 1) to demonstrate that the primary test for the Hugos was not literary, but political, namely, that which accorded with leftist identity politics; and 2) to end puppy related sadness, the leading cause of which is reading dull social justice warrior propaganda disguised as fiction.
Correia was nominated, the rabble was roused, and denounced him for being hateful, racist, other progressive pejoratives. Many insisted they would not read his work, but would vote against him. Correia failed to win, which demonstrated his point, but no matter.
Since the puppies were still sad, Correia offered another slate this year. Brad Torgersen and others jumped in, and Sad Puppies 3 managed to sweep the nominations.
Whereupon the social justice warriors became rather angry. For instance, here's one headline: "Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign" courtesy of one, Isabella Biedenharn. Note that the headline and link were subsequently changed, but there was no excuse in publishing such an outlandish calumny in the first place.
There are other examples, but these should suffice to demonstrate my point. In the cases outlined above, the facts of the story were viewed as inessential. Journalism exists, not to tell what happened, but to tell a story, to fit the facts into the narrative, like animals are corralled into a pen.
Once one knows that social conservatives are bigots who hate homosexuals, it's not necessary to familiarize oneself with the particulars of a bill. Its mere passage is confirmation of the pre-determined intent. Similarly, whether or not a particular girl was raped by a particular man at a particular fraternity isn't important. What matters is that college girls are being raped all the time, and anything which reinforces this narrative is useful.
If the narrative is sound, it shouldn't be too difficult to find facts which fit. That so many of our stories are riddled with falsehood doesn't disprove the larger explanation, but it does suggest that we proceed with scepticism. It may turn out that the narrative is as false as the fabricated story.