November 20, 2016 12:30:49 AM
Most American newspapers, especially the influential ones, wrote more words about the death of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen than their readers wanted to (or did) read.
Same reason most American newspapers blew the Donald Trump story.
The whole point of memorializing the relatively unpopular Cohen was that it showed how culturally advanced the reporter was, how he didn't like Kenny Chesney or anyone other popular entertainer.
Despite the fact that newspaper reporters tend to make a working-class wage, newspaper reporters don't think of themselves as working class. They think of themselves as rebels, as Bohemians, as people whose idea of what to like is so advanced that they like things no one else likes.
We're reporters. We're columnists. We're editors. We can cross the yellow caution tape. We call the senator by his first name.
Despite our paychecks and the company's lousy health insurance, we will not be identified with light beer or monster trucks or evangelical Christianity or professional wrestling.
Newsrooms are places where people reinforce each other's opinion.
We knew at the beginning that Trump was going to get a few votes from gun-nut crazies and then it would be over. Editorial writers at major newspapers were horrified at the idea that poor white Christians from Oklahoma actually got to vote. Hell, those people didn't even go to college!
We blew it. We didn't blow it because we were biased or because we were part of a huge conspiracy or because we were being bribed.
We blew it because we stayed in the office too much, telling each other we were right. We blew it because we went to the press conference and not to the streets. We blew it because we don't go to karaoke night at the VFW and because we don't belong to the evangelical churches where the word of God was anti-Hillary. We blew it because we have separated ourselves from the American people.
I dislike Donald Trump intensely, but I knew his supporters, and I knew he had a lot of supporters. Up until the end of this election, I was the only one in my newsroom who thought Trump might win.
Did I think that because I'm a political savant?
I thought that because a significant number of my friends are working-class people. I was born into the working class. I am working class. They are my people. I didn't leave them just because I went to college.
At some point in the campaign, almost every newspaper printed the statistic that Trump did better among people who didn't go to college than he did among people who did go to college.
But no newspaper ever stopped to consider that most Americans didn't go to college. Not going to college isn't unusual; it's normal. If Americans who didn't go to college want something, they've got enough votes to get it. I don't recall any newspaper making that connection.
We're the reporters. We're the columnists. We're the editors. We went to college. We call the senator by his first name.
And we got smacked in the mouth because we stayed in the office, because we went straight home at night, because none of our friends dropped out of high school, or went to vocational school or got laid-off when the Spandex factory closed.
We didn't see it coming because we weren't looking, because we were trying not to look.
Are you a reporter or a columnist? Want some advice?
Next Tuesday, go down to the VFW. It's karaoke night. Sit at the bar. Buy a beer for the Iraq War vet next to you. Let him talk. For God's sake listen. If you want to get up and sing, go ahead.
Just don't ask for a Leonard Cohen song. They probably won't have it and you won't impress anyone.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
1. Ask Rufus: Spanish Mustangs of the Prairie LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Unity Park offers opportunity to honor civil rights leaders DISPATCH EDITORIALS
4. Editorial cartoons for 9-21-18 NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Roses and thorns: 9-23-18 ROSES & THORNS