A recent “news” feature story produced by a small consortium of local newspapers shows how extravagantly both the dominant media culture has fallen in general and how low journalistic standards have become.

The underlying issue, as it suddenly is so often these days, is gender-bending ideology. It could not have been more than three or four years ago that most people weren’t even sure what “transgender” meant (partly because fewer than 6 in every thousand adults fit in that category), thought that “who someone identifies as" had nothing to do with gender, and didn’t think pronouns were a matter of either politics or personal preference. Yet now, as if on orders from on high but against the wishes of most people, daily newspaper reporters are casting trans-related issues not in neutral language but in the preferred lingo and from the preferred perspective of the trans activists.

What results isn’t reporting — it’s a sneaky mix of bias and outright advocacy. It’s a discredit to the trade of journalism.

At issue is a huge feature that dominated the front page of the May 6 Mobile Press-Register after running in different formats April 27 in the Seattle Times and the Dallas Morning News. It was part of a “collaborative education reporting effort” of those three papers and four other publications. This supposedly unbiased news report got so tangled up in its own pronoun obsessions that it couldn’t even keep pronouns straight (no pun intended), either in gender or in number, in a single sentence in a photo caption.

Beneath a picture of what looks like a boy and his father, it says (with my emphasis added), “Granbury (Texas) High School junior Lou Whiting, 17, rests their hands on ‘This Book Is Gay’ by James Dawson during a public inspection of books designated for removal at the Granbury school district administration building. Above, she looks over books with their father, David Whiting.”


How can an individual boy be both a “she” and a "they" in the same sentence?

Throughout the 2,000-word article, the plural “their” or “they” is used for individual students who are of uncertain genders so that there is no obvious way to tell, even in adjoining sentences, when the article is referring to just one lone student or to several. So Lou and a friend make “themselves” heard, but Lou lends out “their” (meaning the one owned solely by Lou) copy of the book.

In addition to adopting diction that is biased against ordinary usage and understanding, thus taking a definite side in the “culture wars” mentioned in the headline, this also violates journalism’s cardinal rule of insisting on clarity for the sake of the reader. When a reader is required to do a triple take and some major forensic-linguistic sleuthing before discerning to whom and to how many people a sentence’s subject is referring, that’s horrid journalism.

Throughout the report, all the assumptions are made not neutrally but in favor of the lens preferred by trans activists. Students’ “identities come up for debate among adults,” supposedly, while “who they are” is assumed by the reporters to be whatever sex the children decide they are. The battle isn’t framed as parents protecting age-old, unquestioned prerogatives but rather as a conservative “desire to expand parental rights” — as if the default position isn’t with the parents.

And “vague laws … threaten to chill candid conversations about history.” All of the people whose voices are prominently featured in the article with numerous direct quotes come from the so-called progressive side of the debate. Discussing Virginia controversies, a critic is quoted saying a directive from GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin is a “thinly veiled effort to stop the discussion of race and its implication for our community.” Nobody is quoted on Youngkin’s side.

And so on.

This doesn’t come, mind you, from a crusadingly left-liberal newspaper such as the New York Times but from midsized city dailies, most of which serve largely conservative communities. Yet the report shows not the slightest discernible effort to be evenhanded. It’s a straightforward propaganda piece disguised as news.

In the same day’s Mobile Press-Register — which, to stress again, serves two overwhelmingly conservative counties in an overwhelmingly conservative, pro-life state — the opinion section featured three columns castigating the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that would overturn the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade decision but not a single column on the anti-Roe side.

What happened to balance? What happened to fairness?

And, in the broader culture, what happened to common courtesy and respect for parents? Witness the Kansas school system that encourages children to pretend to be one gender while in school but orders teachers to lie to parents about the child’s gender experimentation.

What is wrong with these people who control our institutions, both educational and informational? At long last, have they no decency — not even a shred?