Columnists — what do they know anyway

Journalists pride themselves on being unbiased messengers of the truth, ferreting out the facts and letting their readers decide for themselves what to do with them.

But by nature we’re also an opinionated bunch, and when we’re given an opportunity to express those opinions — look out.

Of course, I’m not talking about the news stories that fill most of the pages of newspapers, this one included.

Reporters take pride in keeping themselves out of their stories and instead letting their sources do the talking.

No, I’m talking about newspaper columnists — a rarefied breed of journalist who are paid — actually paid — to not only express an opinion but also to scold, nag, hector and berate (constructively, of course) anyone who they feel deserves to be scolded, nagged, hectored and berated.

We even have a few of those in The Western Producer, although we try as much as possible to keep things civil and scolding, nagging, hectoring and berating to a minimum.

I recognize that it takes a lot of courage to stick your neck out several times a week and sound so sure of yourself all the time.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun at their expense when things go a bit wrong.

For example, there was a lot of pontificating about a month ago when the NDP government in British Columbia decided to call a snap election.

The columnists I read were livid. There was no need for an early vote, they argued, because the NDP had a perfectly functioning agreement with the Greens that was working well and in fact promised that an election wouldn’t be called for four years.

It was also irresponsible, they argued, to make voters put themselves at risk during the pandemic.

OK, so far so good, because I actually believe a lot of that myself.

But the columnists also bravely predicted that the move would backfire — that voters would punish the party for its misdeeds.

I tried to imagine the seasoned political professionals sitting in the NDP’s backrooms reading those columns and saying to each other — what were we thinking?

But that’s not what happened. Those election veterans knew exactly what they were doing.

They stuck to their guns, called an election that no one but the NDP needed and are now ensconced in power with a majority government for another four years.

I guess it’s good for them that they didn’t listen to the journalists.

About the author


Stories from our other publications