My own sense is that by and large political journalists are a smug bunch, but they come by it naturally. If they seem to have contempt for us, it is because they really do have different experiences and inhabit a different world from the vast majority of their fellow Americans.
For one thing, journalists as a whole don’t look like the rest of America. “The typical US journalist is a 41 year-old white male,” began a 2006 report by the Pew Research Center. When that report was updated in 2013, that typical journalist had become a 47 year-old white male, and the median age had risen not only at newspapers, where one might expect journalists to be aging along with their institution, but also at TV and radio stations and even online news sites.
As for the “white” part, journalists are overwhelmingly white in a nation that is increasingly diverse. Roughly 37 percent of Americans are minorities — a number that is growing rapidly. But by one study, minorities possessed only 22 percent of television journalism jobs, 13 percent of radio jobs and 13 percent of daily newspaper jobs. Another study, by Indiana University, puts the percentage of minority-held journalism jobs much lower: 8.5 percent in 2013.
And as for the “male” part, while the number of women in journalism has been increasing ever so gradually, only one-third or so of full-time journalists are women — a fraction that has held more or less steady since the 1980s.
So here is the situation: A country that is increasingly younger, darker and half female is being reported on by a press corps that is older, whiter and more male. A gaping demographic gulf separates the press from the people — a gulf that undoubtedly affects the kinds of stories chosen and the way in which they are covered.