The year in media, meanwhile, was marked by grotesque factual scandals, journalist-cheered censorship, and an accelerating newsroom mania for political groupthink that was equal parts frightening and ridiculous.
The tiniest violations of perceived orthodoxies cost jobs. Reporters and editors were whacked en masse in uprisings at the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Wall Street Journal, Vox, the Miami Herald, and countless other places.
Some of the purges were themselves amazing news stories. Reporter Sue Schafer was fired after her paper, the Washington Post, published a 3,000-word expose about a two-year-old incident in which she attended a Halloween party dressed as Megyn Kelly, who herself had been fired from NBC for defending blackface costumes. Schafer, in other words, was fired for dressing in blackface as a satire of blackface costumes, in an incident no one heard of until her own editors decided to make an issue of it. This was one example of what the New Yorker recently exulted as the "expensive and laborious" process of investigative journalism, as practiced in 2020.
If in looking at the following list it strikes you to wonder, "Where were the editors?", it turns out an atmosphere in which even senior New York Times bosses have to be afraid of staff is almost like having no editors at all! Given their importance in preventing the scourge of what the New Yorker called "journalistic individualism," i.e. reporters allowed to operate outside the "collective interest," this was really too bad. In honor, then, of that sacred covenant between writers and editors — well, the ones not purged, reassigned, or forced out this year — here's a shortlist of the most remarkable (and presumably edited) articles of 2020, the year of the woke headline...