“These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure …. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility, … we are not the New York Times.”
A group of 280 news staffers at The Wall Street Journal signed, and then leaked, a letter complaining about the Opinion pages.
The full letter was leaked to and published on Twitter by a NY Times journalist:
This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 300 WSJ staffers signed a letter to the publisher pointing out flaws and errors in Opinion articles and asking for changes. https://t.co/TFOX3KdzOR
Below: The letter in full. pic.twitter.com/v6hZvDcXl3
— marc tracy (@marcatracy) July 23, 2020
There are complaints that some Op-Eds should have been better fact-checked. But these are opinion pieces, not news articles, and its up to the opinion authors to back up, or not, their claims. That’s not to say a publication has no responsibility to fact check opinion pieces, but its not the same standard as for news reporting by the publication.
That all seemed to be just window dressing. The heart of letter was a now-too-common passive-aggressive attempt to silence others by claiming opinions with which they disagree are divisive or upset people:
Multiple employees of color publicly spoke out about the pain this Opinion piece [by Heather Mac Donald, The Myth of Systemic Police Racism“] caused them … If the company is serious about better supporting its employees of color, at a bare minimum it should raise Opinion’s standards so that misinformation about racism isn’t published.
* * *
Opinion’s actions affect how the newsroom can operate and improve. Our newsroom is overwhelmingly white and now more than ever our management wants to actively recruit more people of color. As reporters, we have been told over the years to seek more diverse people as sources, given their overall lack of representation in our news coverage. But as long as Opinion in its current state is part of our brand, we will face difficulties recruiting diverse talen and building trust with sources. It’s understandable why someone who reads about systemic police racism being a “myth” in the WSJ might not trust our newsroom to be fair, honest or welcoming.
This the type of elevation of feelings over free expression that drove the NY Times, and many other publications, to purge alleged offenders. It’s the heart of cancel culture on campuses, and the pretext for trying to cancel people like me for stating uncomfortable truths about the Black Lives Matter movement.
So did The Wall Street Journal take a knee?
Here is the response from the WSJ Editorial Board, A Note to Readers – These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure (emphasis added):
We’ve been gratified this week by the outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order.
In the spirit of collegiality, we won’t respond in kind to the letter signers. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility in any case. The signers report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors. Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment.
It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution. But we are not the New York Times. Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.
As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.
It’s good that The Wall Street Journal refused to take a knee. Unfortunately, WSJ is the exception, not the rule.DONATE
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