On racism on campus:
Racially charged incidents on campus colleges have been all over the news this week. The big national story has focused on “Mizzou,” the University of Missouri, where protests and a threatened boycott by student athletes over the alleged failure of the college administration to address racial incidents has led to the resignation of the university’s chancellor and president.
But there has also been a lot of action closer to home. Slurs and death threats issued to a SUNY Potsdam Professor last April have led to the arrest of a former student. Ithaca College students are demanding their president resign over unresponsiveness to racial incidents on that campus. And SUNY Plattsburgh has been the site of protests and forums following the publication of a cartoon on the front page of the student paper that many viewed as a racist slur.
There is a great gulf between the way many whites and most people of color view these incidents and their aftermath. That is the subject of this essay by University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate Virginia Pasley in NPR’s Code Switch blog (On Campus Racism And The Fairy Tale Of The P.C. Police), and of this conversation between Audie Cornish, writer Roxane Gay and political columnist Jonathan Chiatt on All Things Considered (College Protests Raise Questions About Culture Of Political Correctness)
On “click-bait” headlines
The old truism that headlines sell papers is even more true in the digital age. That leads to a competitive arms race that can distort journalism and have other bad consequences for news organizations. NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen addressed complaints from NPR readers this week about headlines that “are misleading, or come across as ‘clickbait,'” or are too “snarky.” One example from the article:
The reaction to the headline on Danielle Kurtzleben’s Nov. 5 online article about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (“We Read Donald Trump’s New Book So You Don’t Have To“) was swift—and in my mind, deserved, and not just because the phrase has become cliché.
In the comments below the story, one commenter, with the handle “rosswilliams,” wrote: “The headline says it all. No need to actually pay attention, NPR and the rest of the popular media can tell you everything you need to know in a sound bite.”
Just a few hours later the headline was changed. It now reads: “Trump’s New Book Doesn’t Say Much, But Neither Do Lots Of Political Books.”
Jensen says later in the article that:
Beth Donovan, NPR’s political editor, told me by email that “the main reason the headline was changed was that the initial one didn’t reflect the story, which was a thoughtful take on political books in general.”
On the big Montreal “poo” dump
For a while it looked like Environment Canada had put the kibosh on the city of Montreal’s plan to dump 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River, but shortly after the election of new Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the plan has moved forward and dumping is happening right now. NCPR readers have had a lot to say about the plan. Here are a few samples:
Dennis Shanley took aim at the new prime minster: “I’m very disappointed in the Trudeau Government’s sanctioning of this environmental disaster, especially since it was downriver Quebec that supported Trudeau so strongly.”
Exit Only said to follow the money: “Don’t worry, both the US and Canadian governments will tax us citizens more to clean up this mess that would have been zero cost to prevent. Some private hazardous waste contractor–with connections to someone in government–is going to make a fortune getting the contract to clean this up. Of course, it will cost more money than budgeted to do so.”
IAm said that all the focus was on the wrong stuff: “Poo isn’t the major problem, it’s Drano, prescription drugs, chemicals, pesticides…..”
Pete Klein did an international thought experiment: “If I were a Canadian I would be against dumping raw sewage in the river. Also, if I were a Canadian, I would not appreciate some senator from the United States sticking his nose into the internal affairs of Canada.”
The dumping which began Tuesday night at midnight will continue through this weekend.