Thursday, September 29, 2005

Yeah, I'm posting, shut up

Some of you may have caught wind of the furor that’s surrounded this piece over the past week or so. Recent Columbia J-school graduate Louise Story’s article about elite college grads who want to become full-time moms got slammed by Jack Shafer and several others, forcing her to respond with this defense of her research methods.

I may be biased, because I know the author vaguely (she and I were in Directed Studies together as undergrads), but the vehemence of these attacks is out of line. Sure, she should have been more upfront about how she put her story together, but since when is a profusion of compelling anecdotes insufficient grounds for a trend piece—something that has the aura of fluff by definition? Journalists aren’t impromptu sociologists, and this piece doesn’t pretend to be a definitive academic analysis; it’s intended to get a dialogue going, not pass down a final pronouncement. More than statistics, firsthand observation is the lifeblood of journalism, as Tom Wolfe figured out more than forty years ago. Without it, news stories—particularly ones about social trends—would be little more than dry transcriptions of government agency reports, and the newspaper industry would be in even worse straits than it is already.

In other related news, I have fallen desperately in love with this tortoise. I think I’m going to have 1-800-FLOWERS send him a clover bouquet.

6 Comments:

Blogger Rebekah said...

Hey Liz-- yeah, I agree with you about the article. I actually read it the day it was in the ny times, and I remember thinking it was an interesting piece about a particular trend but not being infuriated because it generalized about my demographic or something. In other news, that tortoise IS adorable. I wonder if he has a pack of fangirls yet who "chase" him down the street whenever he steps out of the house. :)

9:11 AM  
Blogger Clark said...

So, I can't decide which is the stranger group: Canadians or tortoises. Tortoises is definitely the stranger word, though. (Managed to come down with some weird malady last weekend, so I'm a bit silly from a fever/cold medicine, so forgive the less-than-serious reply)

8:00 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

Today I was reading the Articles of Confederation for my American Studies class, and I found this provision:

"Art. XI. Canada acceding to this confederation, and joining in the measures of the united states, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this union."

So maybe I was rusty on my history, but dude, Canada was invited to be part of the U.S. back in the day! Now only if they'd take the opportunity in 2005 to return the favor.

On the thread of cute animals, my housemates and I found a two-week old abandoned kitten mewing outside our house yesterday evening. He was sooo small, the size of my palm, literally, and soft and scared and w/alarmingly little motor control (he was definitely born *really* recently). We took him in, made a bed for him out of towels and an empty bin, bought him kitten formula and a baby bottle, and woke up on three-hour shifts all night to feed the little guy. We were going to take him to the vet today and arrange to keep him, but this morning we found his siblings and mom living under our porch, so they all had a happy reunion. I'm going to miss taking care of Teeny McGee (as we had taken to calling him), but it's nice to know I'll still see him around :). He really couldn't have landed a better house to be born under - eight girls with serious weaknesses for baby animals and way too much free time.

11:01 PM  
Blogger harsh said...

Get back in the kitchen and bake me some pie!!!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

just don't expect to be fed with a baby bottle....

7:36 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

I guess we never answered Clark's question. I vote Canadians.

1:57 PM  

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