Saturday, November 7, 2009

Deep waters

Matthew Yglesias writes :

I would say that another message is that progressive politics is badly disadvantaged by a situation in which the overwhelming majorities of political leaders and prominent media figures are white men. There are plenty of white men with progressive views, but in general the majority of white men are not progressive and the majority of progressives are not white men. Drawing from the relatively small pool of white male progressives means drawing from a shallow talent pool.

As regards media figures this is wrong. The traditional media is so hostile and defensive regarding bloggers because it has become apparent the skills required to be a pundit are not rare at all. And that most established media figures owe their prominence to some variety of connections or luck not extraordinary talent. The absolute number of white male liberals is not small and will contain plenty of talented people as Yglesias himself shows.

The problem with drawing media figures just from white men is not that you will give up a lot in terms of talent since you won't. The problem is a lack of diversity. Many of the purported advantages of diversity are politically correct nonsense but in the case of bloggers and the like there really is an advantage to reading people writing from a wide range of personal experience. Which is why I read bloggers like Ta-nehisi Coates or Clayton Cramer .

However I suspect Yglesias's real problem with progressive media figures isn't that they are the wrong color but that there aren't enough of them. Not sharing Yglesias's politics I am not particularly sympathetic. And of course it is to be expected that the media will tend to reflect the preferences of its audience.

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