And there we have it in a nutshell. “Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” That phrase, it should be pointed out, is not what “they” say it’s a journalist’s duty to do. That phrase was satirical, uttered by the fictional Irish bartender “Mr. Dooley,” the 1893 creation of Chicago Evening Post humorist Finley Peter Dunne. It was not intended to be taken seriously. Here’s the phrase in its original context: “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.”
It was a satire of newspapers, not a how-to manual for journalists.