Again, this shift is happening on a continuum with the pursuit of old-fashioned and laudable liberal goals — more diversity in hiring, equal opportunity instead of old boys networks, newsrooms that more adequately represent the communities they cover. But bound up with these goals is a growing newsroom assumption that greater diversity should actually lead to a more singular perspective on the news, a journalism of “truth” rather than “objectivity,” in which issues that involve black — or gay or female or transgender or immigrant — interests are covered less as complex debates and more as stories of good versus evil. (Obviously, having Donald Trump as president, with his birtherism, bluster and Twitter-feed authoritarianism, has made this transformation seem more urgent and essential.)
And because the media is more consolidated than in the past, its talent concentrated in a few cities with a few papers (like this one) bestriding the landscape and smaller outlets fading every day, it’s a mistake to see this change as just a return of the partisan journalism that dominated 19th-century America. We don’t suddenly have a Democratic and a Republican newspaper battling in every city once again. Instead we have a national media (with Fox News as the exception that helps solidify the rule) that moves as a herd but doesn’t think of itself as partisan — because partisans are partial and biased, and the assumption is that in rejecting neutrality we’re just moving toward the truth.