Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain with more than 200 dailies, announced this month that it will pull out of opinion pieces like the one you’re reading. The liberal editorial page editor of USA Today said they failed to “evolve.”
I know something about Gannett’s evolution from when I was deputy editor of the USA Today editorial page until August, when I was demoted after I tweeted: “People who are pregnant are also women..”
That idea was banned because a “news reporter” covering diversity, equity and inclusion wrote a story detailing how transgender men can get pregnant. I compounded my sin against this new orthodoxy by calling the idea that men can get pregnant an “opinion.”
My bosses informed me that if I wanted to keep any jobs at USA Today, I had to remove these offensive tweets because they were causing pain to LGBTQ activists and journalists on our staff.
Now, I’ve been an opinion journalist for 30 years, I thought I was authorized to have opinions. The idea that women are the ones who get pregnant has gone from scientific fact to opinion and outright falsehood in the blink of an eye. However, it is still my opinion that women get pregnant. Women, after all, come with all the accessories: vaginas, wombs, ovaries, and mammary glands.
Do not misunderstand. I want nothing more than for trans and non-binary people to live free and full lives, work in peace, and pursue happiness as they see fit. In my personal life, I love one of them.
But the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group and the newsroom’s “diversity” committee thought he should be fired. That worries me. No, I don’t worry about myself. I’ll be fine. I am a straight cis white male with all the privileges that comes with it, as I have learned in my diversity training mandated by Gannett. Even complaining on my behalf would be a microaggression, as I also learned in Gannett’s training.
What I do worry about is that Gannett shareholders are being misled. Gannett’s story is that it is becoming the USA Today network where newspapers in dozens of states will embrace diversity, reflect their communities, and spread a uniquely accurate view of America for which they will pay millions.
But what if our journalism is written by people who look like America but sound like the English Department at Harvard? What if we look like our communities but don’t think anything like them or share their values and priorities? Readers are bound to take notice.
Gannett’s top editors and publishers are filling the company with a cadre of young college graduates who share a narrow “awakening” ideology that is alien to the values of most of their readers. In a closely divided America, Gannett has a grand total of a local conservative columnist. One conservative editorial page remains on the web. In recent years, I’ve seen good conservative editorial pages in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Oklahoma City blink to be replaced by bland corporate liberalism. There are zero conservative editorial cartoonists left on the net.
Gannett’s problem isn’t that his opinion sections don’t “evolve.” It’s just that readers don’t care what they’ve become.
I don’t know what’s going on in the network’s news or sports departments, but I do know what’s going on in the opinion sections. Until August, I read a daily memo of national opinion produced via the net, and most days there is nothing written by a conservative clerk in a local newspaper. Every once in a while there’s one from a freelancer or one of the then three right-leaning employees in the opinion section of USA Today. (Now two.)
I know that at USA Today, members of the newsroom “diversity” committee can edit “problematic” opinion content. Members of this bigoted “diversity” committee dig through unpublished articles and try to criticize those who oppose their agenda. The few controversial conservative columns that rise to the challenge need to be paired with content more receptive to diversity ideology. The staff at the regional design centers, the people who design the newspapers, have the ability to shut down the conservative columns selected by local opinion editors.
If Wake’s news department staff members have anything like the influence on the news they have in opinion, half of our potential subscribers have no chance of seeing their views fairly represented. An example of what gets published in the news section of USA Today is enough to say how big the divide has become between regular readers and our DEI-inspired ideology: imagine 1,000 words about how fans in normal America misunderstand the pedophilia.
While top leaders at Gannett and USA Today have understandably focused on the company’s billion-dollar debt and quarterly results, they have lost control of their newsrooms, which are cutting half their potential readers to follow the narrow political agendas of the activists. It won’t be long before it hits the bottom, if it hasn’t already.
David MastioA former deputy editorial page editor for USA Today, he is the executive editor of StraightArrowNews.com.