Or maybe you’re doing a breathtakingly crappy job – updated

Introducing Globe and Mail columnist and CTV host Jane Taber on a CBC panel today, Sunday Edition host Michael Enright said the following:

michael_enright-csShe is often accused by Tories of being a Liberal, and by Liberals of being a Tory, which means she is doing her job.

This canard is so common among journalists as to qualify as hackneyed. If both sides in a dispute criticize you, you much be striking the right balance. But there is an obvious alternative explanation: You could be doing such a crappy job that all sides find something to attack in your work.

Let me be clear that Contrarian is not offering a criticism of Ms. Taber, but of the smug imperviousness to criticism that pervades journalism.

A journalist friend responds:

The quote is glib, for sure. But if it’s accurate – that is, if Mr E. or the producer who wrote the script could actually attribute it to Grit & Tory sources – there’s the possible corollary that politicians from at least two parties assume that critical reportage or comment can only be partisan and not disinterested.

Good point. Politicians, take heed. But as for journalists, it’s a dangerous conceit to mark criticism as evidence of a job well done. It can be that. It can be the opposite.