Why are newspaper opinion columnists so consistently baffled by the politics, technologies, and social mores of the 21st century? We’ve crunched some data, and we think we’ve figured out the answer: They’re old as hell.
The New York Times’ David Brooks is under the impression that the babblings of his Yale students reflect major generational trends. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen thinks for some reason that it’s okay to assume interracial relationships probably make people “repress a gag reflex.” At the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan was apparently the last person on earth to find out about the internet. It’s been a fun few weeks (months, years)—for us, at least.
The graphic says it all. The Wall Street Journal has the youngest columnists with a median age of 55. The rest are even worse.
Out of over 140 columnists, half are over 60 years old.
Now being old is not really the problem per se but the lack of diversity is telling. Only 38 of over 140 columnists are women. About 8 are less than 40 years old.
No wonder so many of them seem to fit into well defined buckets with little diversity in thought.
I read some of the newer columnists/ bloggers, like Daniel Larison (34) at the American Conservative or Ta-Nehisi Coates (36) at the Atlantic if I want to get a clearer view of the world without having it colored by someone reliving the 60s and thinking that explains today.
Sure, that perspective is important and if we do not know where we were, it is hard to tell where we are going. But that should be just one of a multitude of viewpoints, not 90%.
Lack of diverse views is why I don’t follow MSM columnists. I may read them when, like a broken clock, they have something worthwhile, but I’m not even sure they are right 1 time out of 12.