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Even-handed editorials: Fair-minded impartiality?

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Earl Fowler

It seems some people feel, though others see it differently, of course, that some newspaper editorials in certain publications have become more wishy-washy with the passage of time.

More tasteless, though not in the sense of giving offence. Some feel insipid would be a more apt word. A mot more juste. Thin. Flavourless. Effete. Spineless. Pallid. Irresolute. Half-hearted. Limp-wristed. Namby-pamby. Weak-kneed. Indecisive. Wan. Wet. Tenuous at best.

But on the other hand, is this really the case and are some seasoned observers overreacting? According to one report from which an editorialist or columnist or, mutatis mutandis, some observers say, internet blogger (less constrained by the hard-won rigours of journalistic standards or the fetters of a well-crafted sentence) might feel free to cherry-pick, ignoring any evidence to the contrary, some might agree. Others might not. Too soon to say, but either way it’s either a cautionary tale or an object lesson.

Upon deeper reflection, what cannot be supported is an oft-cited policy of ignorance toward this menace to critical thinking, unless it’s less serious than it appears to some, based on other half-digested studies into why more public money should be spent on a robust program of research into whatever it was that this sentence was about.

Equally troubling, pundits say, is the bureaucratic foot-dragging and red tape that some cite as obstacles to closing these gaps in our knowledge. Where once this was shrouded in secrecy, we are possibly approaching a tipping inflection point of no return. If history is any guide, at any rate, the past is prologue and the devil, as they say, is in the details. We can’t go home again.

Is it too late? Perhaps. Or maybe there are intermediate, much-ballyhooed steps that could be taken. Maybe even a probe or a judicial inquiry. The powers that be are at a crossroads and it certainly begs the question as to why they are turning a blind eye to this potent symbol of a searing indictment.

This is the sense we are getting, in any event, from the keen observers, the chattering classes, the commentariat, the Twitterati, the naysayers and the X-Men. Tongues are wagging. The donors are skittish and the lobbyists well-heeled. Strange bedfellows and political footballs all.

Be that as it may, for many Christmas has come early, chock full with last-ditch efforts. Cue the palpable sense of relief as the rain has failed to dampen our spirits. It could be a hotly contested game-changer. With gusts up to a perfect storm.

At a minimum in the digital age and the 24-hour news cycle, the important thing is to keep an open mind and use as many stock phrases, hackneyed verbal crutches, filler words and misused expressions as it takes to fill a column. To that end, it certainly helps to work in Machiavellian appellations like Orwellian, Gestalt and Zeitgeist. Random italicization is also a one-trick pony.

At first blush, what cannot be supported is a policy of ignorance, carried forward on no more than a wing and prayer. Needless to say, this is most certainly not to disparage the benefits of optimism and faith. Don’t get us wrong. Yes, Virginia, this is not your father’s hot button.

Research 2.0 from the United States suggests that up to 50 per cent of regular editorial readers may go on to develop a form of psychosis described by the Canadian Medical Association Journal as “thinking-inside-the-box half-arsedness.”

One can only imagine the carnage inside the brains of the writers themselves. Their minds boggle. Their fingers type.

But make no mistake. Ultimately, in the eye-popping final analysis, and at the end of the day, we are past the point of suffering fools gladly. Which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t to close the door on or a stinging rebuke to a face-saving compromise.

For all intents and purposes, or so the argument goes, only time will tell. Given these shifting dynamics, there is no panacea.

Or so it seems. For now.

Don’t hold us to this.

There are partisans on both sides.

57 views2 comments


You got me, Earl. I read now and then, the Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Postnonmedia but venturing to the editorial page is akin to slithering through the primordial ooze where corporate owners get their boots shined and workers their asses kicked by purveyors of a multiplicity of Big Lies.

Replying to

Not to add insult to injury or let the cat out of the bag, but to level the playing field, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it’s not like we’re afraid to take a stand, but does anybody really know what time it is?

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