Why Journalists Should Learn to Code

Quite recently, a whole bunch of leftist journalists got downsized at esteemed news organizations such as Huffington Post or BuzzFeed. Those journalists then got a taste of their own medicine. While they arrogantly wrote articles in the past, suggesting that laid-off miners or manufacturing workers should “learn to code”, they now got the same advice. Of course, the powers that be locked that one-sided conversation down fast. Twitter quickly declared the phrase “learn to code” to be hate speech. I hear it is a great way to lose access to your account.

As gratifying as it may feel to see those arrogant lefties throwing a tantrum and not realizing their boundless hypocrisy, there is a rather important aspect of learning to code that this crowd seems to be fully unaware of. There is one good reason why every journalist should learn to code. It is not that they should all turn into software engineers. They would not even be smart enough for that. Instead, the issue is that writing a simple program forces you think logically. You can of course write nonsensical programs, but you will get nonsensical output as a response. In contrast, writing an article has no such safeguards. The biggest bullshit looks as good in print as the most erudite essay, provided it is typeset properly.

Let us look at two key claims pushed by the mainstream. The first is that because white people do not have enough babies, we need immigrants to replenish our workforce. Let’s ignore that those “doctors and engineers” from the Third World are not competitive on the labor market because they lack the necessary skills and work ethic. Besides, if they were so great, why can’t they fix their own countries? On that note, in 2015, German journalists claimed for weeks that those “academics” from the Middle East and North Africa were better educated than the local population, ignoring that the vast majority of those immigrants is illiterate. A second very popular claim by mainstream media is that because of increasing automation we need a Universal Basic Income (UBI). So far, so good. However, if you possess just a modicum of rationality, you quickly realize that it is impossible that both claims are true at the same time. It can’t be the case that we both need more workers because we don’t have enough kids and also need a UBI because there is no longer enough work available.

You may now wonder what this has to do with coding. That is easy to point out. You only have to consider that you need to clearly specify the logical properties of a program. To give you a simple example, if you want to do X when a certain condition is fulfilled, but Y if it is not, then this does not work out if you engage in some kind of woke leftist-feminist coding according to which your code behaves arbitrarily instead. On the contrary, you first have to mentally figure out what you want to do. To draw a parallel to the last paragraph: are we running out of work or not? It’s a simple yes-or-no question. It can’t be the case that we are running out of work while also not running out of work. This is not obvious to a lefty.

The level of coding I am talking about — truth values (booleans) and conditional branching — is basically what you learn in the first one or two lectures in an introductory course, the kind you have to go through in basically any technical degree there is. Heck, I know people who studied “quantitative Political Science” and who ended up doing basic programming for their data analysis. Coding at that basic level is a skill that is quickly becoming indispensable in white-collar jobs. Journalism seems to be an exception in that regard.

The big flaw of this article is that I assume that journalists have an interest in promoting the truth. That is decidedly not the case. From my perspective, mainstream journalists are a bunch of unprincipled keyboard mercenaries of, at best, average intelligence that are much more interested in pushing their failed socialist ideologies than anything else. Yet, there would be an easy way to quickly lift the quality of the profession: demand the completion of an introductory programming course. For that, you need to have an IQ of about 110. I don’t expect many journalists to be able to pass it. That’s also the reason why you sometimes have mathematics courses at a level well beyond what you need in technical degree programs: they are mainly used to weed out people who aren’t smart enough, but that approach has gotten a lot less popular, now that everybody “deserves” a college degree.

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2 thoughts on “Why Journalists Should Learn to Code

  1. Even if they learned to code, they’d still probably have the same political penchants. I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon for a while; how people who are involved in really technical disciplines are able to excel in tasks requiring logic, either at work or in university, and yet leave their brains at the door when they get home and seamlessly transform into diehard lefties.

    It’s literally doublethink from 1984.

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