It's really quite simple and we were reminded of it today after reading WaPo ombudsman Deborah Howell's hand-wringing column, in which she frets about conservative complaints about liberal bias. Howell lists some rather comical examples of allegedly biased Post campaign stories that drew conservative complaints. (And no, Howell never ponders for a moment that the conservative complaints about bias might part of a political campaign that the GOP has been waging against the press for four decades.)
But anyway, Howell is deeply troubled and quotes Tom Rosenstiel, who directs the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He agreed with Howell that the conservative complaints were troubling:
"The perception of liberal bias is a problem by itself for the news media. It's not okay to dismiss it. Conservatives who think the press is deliberately trying to help Democrats are wrong. But conservatives are right that journalism has too many liberals and not enough conservatives. It's inconceivable that that is irrelevant."
You can see where this is going, right? "More conservatives in newsrooms" would help, Howell writes. And then this:
Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done.
Rosenstiel said, "There should be more intellectual diversity among journalists. More conservatives in newsrooms will bring about better journalism."
To that, our response is simple: Who's stopping conservatives from being hired in newsrooms? Honestly. If Newsbusters can document how scores of qualified College Republican grads were passed over by local newspapers to poorly paying jobs to cover local zoning commission jobs simply because the applicants were conservative, we'd love to hear about it. Because right now there's nothing stopping young conservatives from joining newsrooms and working their way up from the bottom just like everybody else in media does. They just don't want to do it.
Put another way, If newsrooms tilt so tragically to the left, why don't conservatives try to get jobs in newsrooms? Why don't they jump at the chance to become poorly paid reporters in a dying industry? The answer: Conservatives would rather be partisan pundits and complain about the press and hope that people like Howell blame journalism.