Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daily Howler Takes down Recent Ivy League Grad Ed Journalists

Impressive diplomas to the side, have you ever seen these new and slightly older kids challenge the prevailing theme about our floundering public schools? Have you ever seen them push back against this ubiquitous, billionaire-favored theme with the most elementary statistical work?
....
People from the finest schools putter around on the public schools beat, failing to identify the groaning conflict between our rapidly rising NAEP scores and the gloomy, teacher-hating scripts which dominate elite discourse. Despite their gaudy Ivy degrees, these young journalists don’t seem able (or willing) to do the most basic reporting, which would undermine the elite press corps' most favored educational themes...
A fresh young face and an Ivy degree do not guarantee expertise, journalistic skill or even basic forthrightness. ...The Daily Howler, July 24, 2014
These people are careerists, not journalists.

Before I blog about the standard op procedure of these people -- get feet wet as a so-called journalist and then write a book, let  me post some thoughts by the Howler.  While a very few actually attempt to teach for a brief period to get a feel for what the job is all about, most won't go near the classroom.

I also must write about the praise NY Times columnist Joe Nocera heaped on Chalkbeat/Gotham Schools' Elizabeth Green (Teaching Teaching).

Bob Somerby, the Howler, is a former Baltimore elementary school teacher (and Harvard grad). Like the dude actually spent a dozen years in the classroom.

He often "critiques education writing, often by analyzing badly reported data on scholastic achievement in low income or minority populations." [Wiki].

THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014

Part 3—What ever happened to standards: As the so-called “worst generation” of journalists exits the stage, they are often being replaced by eager young Ivy League kids.

These replacements come from the finest schools, though you wouldn’t necessarily discern this fact from their frequently horrible work.

In some settings, these bright young kids are simply accepting the broken norms of their establishment news orgs. At the Washington Post, Philip Rucker (Yale 2006) recently became head spear-chucker in his newspaper’s never-ending jihad against the Clintons. At the same newspaper, Catherine Rampell (Princeton 2007) found herself worried by Chelsea Clinton’s “lucrative speaking career”—a lucrative career from which Chelsea Clinton reportedly hasn’t kept a single red cent.

In such cases, the so-called “new kids on the lawn” seem to be getting themselves in line with their owners’ preferred story lines. Elsewhere, though, we’ve often been struck by the lousy technical work which ensues when major news orgs hand the reins to very young Ivy League kids.

Very quickly, let’s consider the way the so-called “new kids on the lawn” have discussed some basic public school issues.

Last November, we discussed some woeful education reporting in The Atlantic, a storied American publication. To review our critique, you can just click here, then click once or twice more.

For today, let’s consider who did the reporting in question, which we think was rather inept.

The report in question was written by Julia Ryan, Harvard 2013. That’s right! Ryan graduated from Harvard in June of last year. By November, she was bungling basic education reporting for a storied publication.

What made The Atlantic think that Ryan was qualified to interpret the basic statistics which come with the public schools beat? We don’t know, but Ryan’s editor was Eleanor Barkhorn, Princeton 2006.

This was her official bio:

THE ATLANTIC: Eleanor Barkhorn is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Education Channel. She previously edited the Sexes and Entertainment channels. Before coming to The Atlantic, she was a reporter at the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville, Mississippi. She graduated from Princeton University, where she majored in American literature and wrote her senior thesis about Oprah's Book Club. For her first two years out of college, she taught high school English with the Teach For America program.
Ryan was straight outta Harvard. Barkhorn was seven years outta Princeton, where she wrote her senior thesis on Oprah’s book club.

However gaudy their diplomas may have seemed, Ryan and Barkhorn didn’t seem ready to create an informed discussion of the nation’s most basic educational statistics. In fairness, this problem extends all through the mainstream press corps, which tends to stick to familiar themes of educational decline, even in the face of the most reliable statistical evidence.

People from the finest schools putter around on the public schools beat, failing to identify the groaning conflict between our rapidly rising NAEP scores and the gloomy, teacher-hating scripts which dominate elite discourse. Despite their gaudy Ivy degrees, these young journalists don’t seem able (or willing) to do the most basic reporting, which would undermine the elite press corps' most favored educational themes.

We’ve often torn our hair over the work of Motoko Rich, the New York Times’ education reporter. Rich, who can’t be called a “new kid,” is said to have been summa cum laude at Yale in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, Dana Goldstein (Brown 2006) is a full-fledged education writer at various liberal publications. According to the leading authority, she’s a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation and a Puffin Fellow at The Nation Institute!

Impressive diplomas to the side, have you ever seen these new and slightly older kids challenge the prevailing theme about our floundering public schools? Have you ever seen them push back against this ubiquitous, billionaire-favored theme with the most elementary statistical work?

(Concerning Gail Collins’ embarrassing groaners about public schools, let’s not even go there today. In theory, Collins is one of the Sam-and-Cokies whose groaning work on public schools these “new kids” should be challenging.)

A fresh young face and an Ivy degree do not guarantee expertise, journalistic skill or even basic forthrightness. Consider the disappointing work of Bryce Covert, Brown 2006.

Tomorrow: When new kids are cast in partisan roles. Also, as the new kids see themselves (two examples)

1 comment:

  1. Oprah's Book Club???

    I must be getting old. Is this a topic covered by Cultural Studies?

    Maybe I can write a dissertation on Chick Lit. Hmmm... I don't think I have enough of it around.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Currently, comment moderation is on, so if your comment doesn't appear it is because I haven't gotten to it yet. (Don't know how to do that from my cell phone.)