Gawker has uncovered something fairly obvious: The majority of newspaper columnists are old dudes. The site crunched the data for columnists at The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. It also included columnists at The Creators Syndicate, Universal Press, King Features and Tribune Media. Gawker found that the average and median age was about 60.
This, according to Gawker, is a terrible thing. This is why there are so many terrible columns published:
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.
Now prepare yourself for another fairly obvious thing: Gawker is wrong. The fact that the average and median ages of columnists is 60 is not a big deal. The fact that most are men? That’s a big deal. But older people have this thing called experience. This is why they get columns.
Sure, some of the older columnists are out of touch. But guess what? There are a lot of idiot twentysomethings too. Try to have an in-depth conversation with a 25-year-old about something that doesn’t impact them directly and/or can’t be turned into a selfie. It’s brutal.
The solution is that newspapers should add one or two more young people than they have now. The majority of columnists should remain older, but at least there’d be a bit more balance.
No one wants a world where only old guys pen columns. But they certainly don’t want a world where only Gawker-aged writers do either.