Monday, August 20, 2012

Journalism, American Style

On Saturday I watched Diane Ravitch's interview on CNN. The interviewer, fancying herself clever, read a poorly written student paper and challenged Ravitch about the state of education. How can education be effective if one single student writes poorly? That would be like me asking how journalism can be effective if one single interviewer asks an incredibly stupid question. Alas, it was not a single question, but a series of them, in a pattern that's replicated widely.

The interviewer asked question after question designed to show how there was no defense for our system, and Ravitch calmly refuted every preposterous assertion behind these questions. In fact, the stupidest of the questions were left out, so as not to make CNN look any more ridiculous than it already did.

Contrast Ravitch's interview with that of Michelle Rhee, who was permitted to spout whatever nonsense struck her fancy, unchallenged. CNN could not be bothered to look beyond the surface of the "reform" narrative for that. In a patently idiotic move, they decided to assert this narrative as absolute truth when confronting Ravitch. This strongly suggested that they hadn't even bothered to read her writing.

Meanwhile, in the NY Times, former food columnist Frank Bruni turned his gourmet eye to education, spitting out arguments right out of the Rhee playbook. This is the paper of record, the state of the art, and I don't think it's much of a boast to say that education bloggers know far more than Bruni about what's going on, no matter how many fancy restaurants he may have reviewed. No stars for him.

Even more frightening is this--here's one area I happen to know about. If you rely on news from CNN, the Times, or any other MSM news outlet, and see how lazy they are in this area, it's not a huge leap to imagine their reporting on national and international issues is equally shoddy. That we accept abject nonsense to dictate how we educate our children strongly suggests that we accept equally shoddy info to dictate how we run our government.

And we don't need a standardized test to determine how little value journalism like this contributes to these United States of America.
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