Monday, August 13, 2012

The balance trap

Blog for Democracy in America...

Aug 8th 2012, 21:05 by N.L. | CHICAGO

FOR all the scrutiny journalists heap upon others, it is remarkable how little attention we pay to our own craft. But it is difficult, and downright awkward, to criticise one's colleagues. And the whipper-snapper down the hall who cannot string two sentences together may be your boss one day. So the most forthright criticism of the press is often performed by outsiders.

One of those external critics is Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, the New York Times reports that the president is frustrated by the fourth estate. But Mr Obama has a point. According to the Times, he has complained about the press's focus on political point-scoring and, more interestingly, of “false balance”, or how reporters give equal weight to both sides of an argument even when one side is factually incorrect.

Many assume that balance is a key element of good journalism. Fresh-faced journalism students often arrive with the dewy-eyed aims of pursuing the truth and preserving balance and objectivity. Objectivity is easy to dismiss. It just doesn’t exist. There, I’ve said it. But balance is a trickier beast. Balance can be a great asset in an article. It can also be ruinous. [More...]

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Economy class

Higher education 

The college-cost calamity 

Many American universities are in financial trouble 

Aug 4th 2012 | CHICAGO | from the print edition

WITH its leafy avenues and Gothic buildings, the University of Chicago seems a sober, solid sort of place. John D. Rockefeller, whose money built it, said it was the “best investment I ever made”. Yet Chicago and other not-for-profit American universities have been piling on the debt as if they were high-tech start-ups.

Long-term debt at not-for-profit universities in America has been growing at 12% a year, estimate Bain & Company, a consultancy, and Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm (see chart 1). A new report looked at the balance-sheets and cashflow statements of 1,692 universities and colleges between 2006 and 2010, and found that one-third were significantly weaker than they had been several years previously.  [More...]

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Its always nice to be proven right

I wrote recently about how the British are a bit grumpy about the Olympics. Am thrilled to discover that the homeland has not lost its deep sense of cynicism about having a major international sporting event in London.