‘Caste and class at the Washington Post’

image More than a little hatred of the Internet lingers among certain elite journalists, and not just over copyright issues or job losses.

The Net—with so much of a focus on pure information, as opposed to the social standing of the people delivering it—tends to reduce class differences.

Despite the clues that the attentive can pick up from Facebook pages, this is still no-one-knows-you’re-a-dog territory.

Granted, “leading” newspapers are not quite as snob-ridden as in the past. If nothing else, they’ve had to take on some techies to keep up. But vestiges of the old mindset remain. Meanwhile, for nostalgic snobs and their victims, here’s a tidbit from Washington Post alum Ivan Goldman on his career there in the 1970s:

"I quickly understood that my clothes and manner of speaking, even the food I ordered in restaurants, were hopelessly pedestrian. I had thought I’d graduated seamlessly into the middle class, but at the Post I learned I was a clumsy imposter. I could fool neither those around me nor myself. Other younger employees could find mentors in the upper reaches of the Post to help them through difficulties, but I had no idea how to do any of that. It took six months for Henry Higgins to mold Eliza Doolittle into a duchess. If a Higgins was around, I had no idea how to find him. I didn’t even know I should be looking."

A little related: The Richest Counties in America, in the Huffington Post. To an extent, the Washington Post reflects the affluence and snobbery of the area it serves. Also see another HuffPo item, America without a middle class. The massive redistribution of wealth, from average Americans to the upper classes, is the biggest news story of the past few decades with the possible exception of the healthcare crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Will elite newspapers—with a disproportionate percentage of Ivy Leaguers and other graduates of expensive schools—cover it as well as they could with more diverse staffs?

Image credit: Creative Commons-licensed photo from Clinton Steeds.

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David Rothman

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