TWO WOMEN: Howell Raines was too brusque too!

FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2013

Part 4—The danger of standard stories: We're still without our connectivity! But thanks to our corporate partners at FedEx, we bring you this brief report.

Off and on, we've examined the plights of two women this week.

The plight of one woman, Jill Abramsonm, has been discussed at length. The plight of a younger woman, D'Leisha Dent, has been almost completely ignored.

It's also true that each woman's plight has been interpreted in terms of a familiar old story. According to these familiar stories, Abramson lost her job as executive editor of the New York Times because of sexism in the workplace. When The Atlantic devoted 10,000 words to Dent's plight, it focused on "resegregation" in the South.

For the most part, The Atlantic ignored a larger story, a story concerning Dent's academic profile and that of the rest of her senior class at Tuscaloosa's Central High. Starting next week, we'll devote several weeks to that topic, in a set of reports we will call "The Gaps."

For today, consider a claim about Abramson's plight. No man in her position would have lost his job for being considered too "brusque," some have said.

Did Abramson lose her job because of gender bias? We can't answer that question. We can report the way Howell Raines was described in the press when he lost the same job at the Times in 2003.

Raines had been on the job less than two years when he was dispatched. In July 2003, Bill Keller was named as his successor. USA Today's Peter Johnson started his rpeort like this:
JOHNSON (7/15/03): Bill Keller, a New York Times columnist and former managing editor, was named executive editor Monday, replacing Howell Raines, who was ousted after the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal.

Keller, 54, said he will dismantle Raines' centralized management structure, in which most decisions came from a handful of top editors.

[...]

Keller, 54, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent who is popular with many staffers—a contrast to Raines, whose brusque management style and reporter/editor "star system" offended many employees.
According to Johnson, Raines had bene disfavored by many due to "brusque management style."

This was a very standard view. Six weeks earlier, when Raines was dispatched, this was what Howard Kurtz wrote. Headline included:
KURTZ (6/9/03): Howell Raines's Tenure: It Left a Nasty Mark

Now, of course, it's easy for some New York Times staffers to unload on Howell Raines.

Jerelle Kraus, a Times art director, told reporters that Raines reminds her of "Caligula" and is "the nastiest editor I've ever worked with." One Times veteran says there is still "venom" in the air toward the departed executive editor.

But since when are newsrooms supposed to be democracies? Or editors supposed to be warm, hand-holding types? Running a huge newspaper is a rough business that sometimes requires knocking heads. Can Raines really have resigned under pressure because much of the staff found him an unpleasant son of a gun?

The answer is yes—a more popular editor would have ridden out the storm—but it's more complicated than that...
Raines was dispatched in the wake of the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal. He was widely described in terms which are quite similar to the terms applied to Abramson in the past week.

Raines, a man, was too brusque too. Reporters stressed the point that Keller, his replacement, had a more pleasant personal style.

Reading descriptions of Abramson and Raines, we've been struck by the similar way the tyros have been described. Consider Ken Auletta's report when Abramson took over at the Times in 2011.

As Auletta described the new boss, he described her many talents. He also described her downsides—and they brought Raines to mind. In this passage, Auletta described Abramson's first day on the job:
AULETTA (10/24/11): Abramson had previously been the paper’s managing editor, and many in the newsroom considered her to be intimidating and brusque; she was too remote and, they thought, slightly similar to an earlier executive editor, the talented but volcanic Howell Raines, who had also begun the job right after Labor Day, in 2001. After less than two years, Raines was forced out, and his memory is still cursed.
Oof! It seems that Raines was so brusque, his memory was still being cursed! Later in Auletta's profile, the comparison pops up again:
AULETTA: While colleagues respect Abramson’s news judgment, they are wary of her sometimes brusque manner. In the summer of 2010, nearly two dozen editors met to plan coverage for the midterm elections. Although Abramson was still working on the online paper, she decided to attend. The gathering was chaired by the national editor, Richard Berke, and the political editor, Richard Stevenson. They began to talk about stories they wanted covered. Abramson interrupted, without allowing them to finish the presentation, and began belittling many of their ideas.

“This was a small earthquake of a meeting,” one reporter, who was informed about it shortly afterward, says. “She whacked editors,” a senior editor who heard about the meeting says. Glenn Kramon, an assistant managing editor, says of Abramson, “The challenge is to say what she wants, not what she doesn’t like.” A senior editor says, “She and Howell are remarkably similar. They are big personalities. They suck the air out of the room. They tell stories about themselves...Unlike Howell, she is not mean. Jill is a nice, caring person...She doesn’t enjoy torturing people. So much of her negativity is unintended.”

Even her supporters were mildly critical of her behavior at the political meeting. Dean Baquet, the acting managing editor at the time, says, “I wouldn’t have handled it that way.” Her criticism “was too sharp.” Abramson now admits, “I think I was probably too tough,” and “hijacked the meeting in a way that was not helpful.”
In Auletta's long report, you read about the back-biting and undermining (by Abramson) which helped ease Raines out of his post. It sounds remarkably like the back-biting and undermining aimed at Abramson which has been attributed to Baquet in the last week.

One other example is worth noting. Last year, Politico's Dylan Byers reported that many staffers at the Times were upset with Abramson's management style. Once again, the comparison to Raines appeared:
BYERS (4/23/13): Months into the job, reporters and editors once again took notice of what they described as Abramson’s brusque approach, which had become only more pronounced now that Abramson was running the show. Every New York Times executive editor has demonstrated the ability to cut someone off at the knees, sources acknowledge, but Abramson did it with a frequency that was demoralizing to almost everyone involved.

[...]

“It’s beginning to reach Howell Raines-like proportions,” one staffer said, referring to the former executive editor who, from 2001 to 2003, is reported to have ruled the paper through humiliation and fear before being forced to resign after the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal.

Others cautioned against such a drastic comparison. Indeed, some think Abramson’s dismissive tone may even be inadvertent. “I don’t know if she realizes how condescending she can be,” one staff member said.
Once again, the comparison to Raines appeared, with people saying that Abramson's approach, while brusque, wasn't quite that bad. In these discussions, the woman was too brusque, but the man had been even worse.

Why did Abramson lose her job? We have no idea. We also have no opinion about her management style.

As a general matter, are women judged differently in the workplace? Presumably, the answer may often be yes. But we can't say if this occurred in the curent case.

Familiar old stories will often be used to explain new events. Abramson's plight was explained in terms of sexism in the workplace. Dent's plight was filtered through the lens of "segregation."

In the case of Dent, we think that familiar old lens obliterated a much larger story. Connectivity willing, we'll start exploring that story next week.

We think that story is very important. We very much hope you'll attend.

73 comments:

  1. "When The Atlantic devoted 10,000 words to Dent's plight, it focused on "resegregation" in the South."

    When Amanda Ripley devoted 306 pages to Tom, a bookish teenager from Pennsylvania it focused on American school scores compared to those in foreign lands.

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      Delete
  2. From the accounts you provide, it sounds like Raines was a mean SOB, a characterization that no one has attached to Abramson. Might that not suggest a double standard -- men in management have to be real asses to get the boot; for women, brusqueness might be enough.

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    1. Raines lost his job because of Jayson Blair -- he couldn't weather than storm. I find myself wondering what precipitated Abramson's firing. It wasn't personality because that is ongoing. Was it the Christie coverage, Snowden, some scandal that we aren't being told about? There had to be a reason and no one is talking about it because it is perhaps preferable to talk about sexism and brusqueness.

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    2. Key phrase: "From the accounts you provide"

      From accounts Bob provides D'Leisha Dent can't get into college, anti-war types were headed for a fall for criticizing the failure to find WMD in Iraq, Christie would easily deal with revelations there was no traffic study at the GWBridge, and US kids have been making more PISA test score gains than Polish kids. But who is counting. Governor Ultrasound still hasn't been charged.

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    3. One source said Dean Baquet went to Pinch Sulzburger and threatened to quit unless he was elevated to Abramson's job. Supposedly, his move was precipitated by Abramson's effort to hire someone at an equal rank to Baquet -- a move that effectively would have demoted Baquet.

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    4. "One source said ...."

      Supposedly, ...."

      You work for Politico now?

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    5. That would be "hire a woman for a position equal to Baquet's position on the digital side.

      Jill A. also green-lighted an investigative article on the incoming NYT CEO and his involvement in the in the Jimmy Saville BBC peodophilla scandal. Shorter: Incoming Times' CEO was up to his scones in that one. She ran the story. New CEO didn't like that she ran the story.
      Target on her back from jump.

      S

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    6. anon 1:25, any particular reason why you persist in visiting this site if you deem it so sucky? Personally, I don't find your dim witted observations particularly edifying.

      Delete
    7. Sure sign that Somerby once again got his ass handed to him" AC/MA shows up to ask why his critics are even here.

      Well, dear boy, we're here to hand Somerby's ass to him. On a daily basis. And he makes it soooo easy.

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    8. You don't hand his ass to him. You look foolish and waste your time.

      Delete
  3. It's not clear to me that Dent has a "plight". She got good grades, but did badly on her ACT. As a result, she got into a less demanding college. No evidence has been presented that she would have gotten a better education at some other school. Why is her "plight" different from that of all the other high school seniors who did badly on their ACT and SAT tests?

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    1. David, Somerby's point is that the rest of her graduating class similarly cannot do well enough to be admitted to college.

      It is a plight when large numbers of low income and African American students cannot do well enough to be admitted to college. College is still strongly tied to lifetime income and job prospects. These kids are being condemned to low income and limited opportunities for the rest of their lives because they are insufficiently well prepared to continue their education.

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    2. Somerby's point indeed. And that of Hannah-Jones as well, but you'd never know it in Somerby's retelling.

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    3. In 2013, Central High School ranked worse than 97.5% of high schools in Alabama.

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    4. It is a plight when large numbers of low income and African American students cannot do well enough to be admitted to college.

      A plight imposed by their scummy negligent parents who don't care enough to provide them with two parents working or looking for work, much less even plan for their existences. Not a plight imposed by insufficient government or evil Republicans.

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    5. It's not clear to me that Dent has a "plight".

      She had a single mother (of four) and the article mentions no father, known or unknown.

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    6. Her mother isn't responsible for the condition of Central High.

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    7. Anon @ 6:41.

      Is your mindset an example of the values of a two parent working family?

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    8. For 6:41-43

      From the White House on down, the myth holds that fatherhood is the great antidote to all that ails black people. But Trayvon Martin had a father. Jordan Davis had a father. Adhering to middle-class norms has never shielded black people from plunder or murder. Some black people always will be twice as good. But they generally find white predation to be thrice as fast.

      Delete
  4. This marks the 10th anniversary The Atlantic devoting 21,000 words to Raines plight. It was written by Howell Raines himself.

    In an ironic twist, when you go to the incomparable archives to read this article it links to a current article entitled Women Get Called Pushy Twice as Often as Men.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/05/my-times/302952/

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  5. I mostly agree with Bob's assessment of the sorry journalism around the Abramson imbroglio. But the parallels between Abramson and Raines are pushed too far. Raines was protected and cosseted by the publisher through most of his tenure. It was the plagiarism scandal that was his undoing, not so much the abuses he regularly visited on colleagues and underlings. Nor was Raines humiliated on his way out the door. The public dissing of Abramson in the Times' reports and in the publisher's later comments was unprecedented, as well as weirdly inept for such a significant and influential organization. I don't know to what degree that reflects an undercurrent of sexism, but I'm pretty certain there's a vein of it among mix of reasons that led to Abramson's exit

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    1. Raines was appointed Executive Editor of The Times in September 2001, serving until May 2003, when controversy stemming from the Jayson Blair scandal led to his dismissal. A Times internal investigation revealed that 36 of the 73 national stories Blair filed with the paper over a six-month period were marred by faked bylines or evidence of plagiarism. Raines was faulted for continuing to publish Blair months after the paper's metro editor, Jonathan Landman, sent him a memo urging him "to stop Jayson from writing for The Times. Right now."

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    2. That's my point. Raines lasted well past the tipping point where his journalism judgment was called into question.

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    3. Precisely why I posted it. Somerby wants us to know Raines was called "brusque" as was Abramson.

      "For today, consider a claim about Abramson's plight. No man in her position would have lost his job for being considered too "brusque," some have said."

      The fact is that Someby can show you no example he has covered in which anyone has said "no man in her position would have lost his job" for brusqueness.

      Nor can Somerby show anyone saying Raines was fired for brusqueness.

      For today, consider this point. Bob is making a false claim about claims made.

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    4. Somerby has never stated "there are no pink martians on the moon" nor has he ever shown anyone saying such martians do not exist.

      You can make an endless series of specific statements about what Somerby has never said. Congratulations.

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    5. That is why I quoted what he did say, and then said he cannot back it up.

      Somerby never said you were not bright. I can say "some have said" you are not bright. But then I would be stating something false, like Somerby. So I'll just say it myself. You are not bright.

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  6. "In the case of Dent, we think that familiar old lens obliterated a much larger story. Connectivity willing, we'll start exploring that story next week.

    We think that story is very important. We very much hope you'll attend."

    I hope so too, Bob. But when I tried to get people to discuss it in the last post they avoided it like the plague. Your readers don't care about black children.

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    1. "Starting next week, we'll devote several weeks to that topic, in a set of reports we will call "The Gaps.""

      Since nobody has covered this, including the Atlantic, it will be interesting to see reader reaction.

      Delete
    2. I don't know how the readership of The Atlantic will react, but I can predict the reaction of the commentariat of this blog thusly:

      1. KZ will write numerous incomprehensible paragraphs from the Galaxy Schizophrenia. The gist of it might be that TDH is a hypocrite, but no one will really be sure.

      2. Someone anonymous will do a happy dance over an error that actually appears in the entry; someone else anonymous will express outrage over something supposedly in the entry that doesn't actually appear there.

      3. Someone will point out that the error is inconsequential and the supposed outrage is an obvious figment of the commenter's imagination.

      4. He will be called a sheep; at least one commenter will post something snarky about explanations of what "Bob really means."

      5. David in Cal will post a tangential comment about a claim he read on the latest right-wing web site he's visited. I will reply with the reams of information I've researched that shows he's wrong, and I will call him an idiot. David in Cal will remain as polite as ever.

      6. Several people will write in to complain that the blog doesn't cover the topics they'd like to see covered. Several more will write in to claim that the blog used to be influential, but now nobody reads it as it's entirely a waste of time to do so.

      7. I'll ask why the commenter spends time on a blog he thinks is a total waste. I'll be told to fuck off.

      8. Another anonymous will write that somebody doesn't care about black children because that's a funny topic and it never gets old.

      9. Blessedly Mary will chime in with a spam post about love spells.

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    3. 10. Because nobody does give a fig about black children.
      And it's not particularly funny.

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    4. 8. was supposed to be ironic. Just like 1-7 and 9. Do I have to mark these things?

      Delete
    5. 10. is a statement of fact based on observations of comment generation.

      Delete
    6. My guess is that the comment at 4:15 yesterday was aimed at deadrat's constant defense that Somerby doesn't write about anything original, but rather just the coverage of events by the media.

      That could put me in 2) of deadrat's list. But I am not outraged. Just amused.

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    7. You think that @4:15 was about my commentary? It's a top-level comment about the blog entry.

      Why anyone would be outraged by a blog is beyond me.

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    8. The comment at 4:15 yesterday was blaming Somerby and commenters for not writing a straightforward education column instead of a media criticism column. @10:51 today doesn't seem to understand that either.

      Somerby wants the media to (1) hire competent journalists with an education background, (2) write on subjects of importance regarding education, such as why the racial gap persists, whether appropriate teaching methods are being used in urban schools, and whether the common core addresses this concern, (3) stop promoting interests of plutocrats and start representing the public and investigating issues with public impact, (4) stop lining their own pockets by currying up to powerful interests, (5) stop giving cushy jobs to the sons and daughters of those powerful interests who have not paid any journalistic dues other than to attend an Ivy League college, (6) get the facts straight in whatever they do write, (7) reason well instead of falling back on narratives that round off the edges of facts to fit a preconceived story line.

      Somerby does write about something original. No one else is writing about this very important issue. Media Matters comes closest, but they are promoting a partisan agenda and not focusing on the importance of a properly functioning media to a democratic society.

      My guess is that the various commenters here are (1) schizophrenic, (2) children, (3) conservatives who want to disrupt anyone self-identifying as a liberal, (4) interns of various annoyed media targets of past posts, (5) government disinformationists, (6) paid hacks working for the Koch's and their ilk, (7) a smattering of people who share Somerby's interests and concerns if not agreement with what he says.

      @10:51 -- please tell where you fit on my list.

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    9. I don't. But my guess is, since it is your list, you'd call yourself a (7).

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    10. Anonymous @ 12:04. I wrote the comment at 4:15 yesterday. You are full of it. You can choose the meaning of "it" yourself.

      I wasn't blaming Somerby for not writing a "straightforward education column." I was predicting that when Somerby devotes a whole week to the Tuscaloosa Central High class of D'Leisha Dent he will not being doing media criticism and his readers will not be interested.

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    11. You keep blaming us for not being interested and yet we are here day after day as Somerby beats the same drum.

      I think more people would write comments if this weren't such a cess pool of trolls and crazies. Pick your category.

      Delete
  7. So Raines and Abramson's departures were both attended by choruses of "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead."

    I've never worked anyplace where the boss wasn't hated for at least regarded as misguided or incompetent. I've never worked anyplace where at least half the employees thought they could do a better job at the helm than the person they were working for.

    I've heard many tales in the business world of top dogs firing tyrannical middle dogs because it was easier than firing than a bunch of bottom dogs in an uproar. (The dog metaphor has nothing to do with JA personally.) It happens.

    Then again, any boss who concentrates on being loved is bound to fail -- as a boss. The question is, is the boss tough like John Wayne in "The Sands of Iwo Jima" or like Charles Laughton in "Mutiny on the Bounty." It seems the ability to inspire loyalty without being a pushover is a gift some don't have.

    In both Raines's and Abramson's cases, it feels like public reasons for their dimissals were merely "the last straw" among a host of other problems their overlings and underlings had become sick of living with.

    Was Jayson Blair the reason for Raines removal or the excuse? Even if words like "brusque" and "pushy" were in circulation at the Times, I'm sure they were only the tip of the iceberg. Each apparently pushed the envelope too far and became history. Maybe the difference between the nature of their respective departures (one almost got a parade; the other wasn't allowed to let the door hit her "T" tattoo) was appropriate given different contexts.

    I seem to remember reading Raines's "star system" was the reason Jayson Blair's antics were tolerated for as long as they were. I also seem to remember reading that this "star-system" was a reason Maureen Dowd was elevated to columnist.

    On the titillating side, it was whispered that in Dowd's case the star system included some casting couch duty. Auletta's comment at the time was that, if true, both were adults and could what they wanted.

    Well, not if it determines what I'll be reading in the Opinion Section. Interesting how aloof Auletta was to the disasters that can be wrought by office romance. I guess every reporter, even the thickest skinned, has his own gag reflex.

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    1. I thought Auletta's skin reminded blogger of Manhattan mud packing salons.

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  8. On the scale of firing offenses, where does "brusque" rank in comparison to "pushy."

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    1. Better yet, how did "brusque" shove "pushy" under the bus as the "magic word" in this sordid tale of press novelization?

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  9. What is the point of D'leisha Dent graduating from a 4-year college if the only job she might be able to get afterwards is still cashier at Target? That's not a knock on her, but on our economy.

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  10. Even in this economy college grads do better than those who don't graduate.

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    1. And if you are privileged enough to be a white graduate your chances of being unemployed ar one in three compared to if you are black.

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    2. Could you rephrase that as a statistic?

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    3. The fact that college grads do better doesn't necessarily prove that they do better because of college. On average, the college grads are smarter and more disciplined than the non-college grads.

      BTW when you factor in the huge cost of many colleges and the delay in beginning to earn money, it's not so clear that college has a net economic value. Particularly if your major doesn't lead to a career.

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    4. "The analysis showed that while college attendance and graduation result in economic payoff for all groups of students, a college degree provides the greatest payoff to African American students in terms of reducing the years they'll spend living in poverty. Black students with a bachelor's degree will spend six fewer years in poverty than black students with a high school degree. That's a bigger gap than for any other ethnic group studied."

      They state that over a lifetime Latinos benefit by $1.3 million and African Americans by $1.4 million compared to a white high school graduate. That more than offsets the cost of college and any delay in earning. They also state the benefit has increased 85% for African Americans over the past 30 years

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/african-americans-college-degrees_n_1609370.html.

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    5. AnonymousMay 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM -- the study you cite is invalid, because of the point I made in the 1st paragraph above: That study wrongly assumes that earnings differences are entirely due to whether or not the person attended college and graduated. However, on average, the college grads are smarter and more disciplined than those who didn't graduate. Similarly, those who attended some college are smarter and more disciplined than those who attended no college.

      I suspect that for blacks, the group differences are quite large. A typical black college grad might look like D'leisha, while a typical non-college attendee might look like some gang-banger or teen-age welfare mother. D'leisha is likely to earn more money, whether she graduates from college or not.

      A proper study would try to match individuals who did and didn't attend college, but who were similar in other respects. That's a very difficult thing to do. But, to not even try to match students in both groups and simply ignore the group differences is academically appalling.

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    6. On what basis do you assume your own hypothesis? You cannot believe that those who attend college are inherently more motivated or smarter without proving it, any more than I can assume that college provides benefits, although employers clearly believe it does and pay graduates accordingly.

      You forget that gang-bangers make a lot more money than college graduates because the drug trade is more lucrative than any paying job (assuming you don't get caught). A proper study would match white gang-bangers and teen mothers against black ones to see who benefits more from the underground economy. I suspect it is all those polygamous WHITE teen-moms gaming the welfare system in Utah.

      If D'Leisha does not graduate from college, statistics show she will make considerably less than if she finishes. But, as an actuary, you know that statistics mean nothing.

      You are aware that we cannot conduct controlled experiments involving people's lives because of ethics? Your idea about a proper study being a matched study ignores that there is an assumption that intelligence and discipline will be normally distributed in both samples if they are large enough, because these are considered to be human characteristics, not properties of one race or another. If you are going to make race-based assumptions about human characteristics, you have lots of company among the eugenicists, but very little among modern social scientists.

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    7. AnonymousMay 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM -- I agree that college provides some benefits, but not as much as that study purported to show. I agree that it may not be possible to do a proper study, but that's no excuse for doing an improper one.

      You made the same mistake I pointed out when you said employers clearly believe college provides benefits and they pay graduates accordingly. It's undoubtedly true that college graduates make better employees in many jobs. However, neither you nor I nor the employer knows how much of the difference is because college made the student a better employee and how much of the difference is because the type of people who succeed at college are more likely to succeed as employees.

      BTW drug dealing is not at all lucrative. See Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?

      Delete
    8. I disagree. Take your job, for example. Your employer knows that people learn statistics in college, not in everyday life, no matter how smart someone is. In that case, college made 100% of the difference.

      Second, there are no perfect studies. All studies are improper in one way or another because of the compromises that must be made to accommodate logistics and inconveniences of reality. For example, there is never true random sampling. That does not mean a study is not informative. Editors of the publications that publish research evaluate whether the deficiences of a study invalidate the findings and reduce its usefulness beyond the cost of publishing it. Science advances even with flawed studies but it may take training to understand which flaws are fatal, and what the impact of various types of flaws may be on data. Without that training, a person is vulnerable to critiques that suggest, as you have done, that all flaws mean you can ignore the findings, that trivial flaws or common ones are meaningful when they are not, and that there is some controversy about findings when there is none. I think this mistaken belief about "improper" studies may be hampering your ability to evaluate the research on climate science, not just this topic.

      If you had studied experimental methods in college, and not just statistics, you might understand this. I know you are a smart guy, but intelligence must be combined with training to yield a better understanding of the world. Otherwise, you are in grave danger of becoming a Republican (or succumbing to other specious appeals to ignorance).

      Beyond income, college graduates tend to have better health and fewer life problems because they learn how to think about things and evaluate claims. It saddens me when someone attends college but doesn't gain that important benefit of education.

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    9. I sure wish Anonymous posters would select a name. That way, I'd know if you Anons were all the same person.

      Anyhow, AnonymousMay 24, 2014 at 4:24 PM, you say you disagree, but I can't tell which statement you disagree with or what it is that you believe. I think what you're saying is that going to college does provide a benefit. If that's your point, then we don't disagree.

      I argued that people who go to college and attend college tend to be smarter and more disciplined. Your actuarial examples bears that out. Most of actuarial study is self-study, on the job. I could have learned the same material without college. Years ago I worked for Anna R. She left college after a year to get married, but passed her actuarial exams and later was President of the Society of Actuaries.

      But, most actuaries go to college, because successful actuaries have to have an aptitude for learning.



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    10. You couldn't have learned the same material without college because college teaches you how to learn new material. You take those skills for granted, but they are real results of the college experience. It may be that someone can pass an actuarial licensing exam without college, but such exams do not assess the full range of judgment and skills practiced on a job. For example, I doubt the exam assesses report-writing ability but I would bet that is part of your job. It is something practiced in college whenever you write a term paper to a deadline and specifications of a syllabus.

      If I don't specify which part of your comment I disagree with, assume it is everything.

      Delete
  11. If Somberby spends couple of weeks on D'leisha and the Tuscaloosa
    Central Class of '14, does that mean he will miss Ta-Nehisi Coates' new piece in the Atlantic?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did Coates commit some sort of journalistic faux pas that might draw Somerby's attention?

      Delete
    2. Follow the link and judge for yourself.

      Delete
    3. No thank you. If you have nothing to add to discussion here, you are no different than a spammer.

      Delete
    4. Well, that is certainly your privilege. And your loss.

      Delete
    5. Coates' piece is an extremely important article that Somerby will either nitpick and miss the forest, or ignore altogether.

      Delete
    6. I agree with the first part of your comment 2:33. But I think those troll-types who predict nitpicking are heading for a fall.
      I will be surprised if Somerby ignores Coates.

      Delete
  12. Somerby does not mention what I have seen highlighted in many stories about Abramson's firing: she was not permitted a farewell speech to the newsroom. Raines was, even though he was not only disliked by most in the newsroom but not much respected by them, either. At least Abramson had their professional respect.

    And I am sorry, but any journalist who doesn't inquire seriously into the possibility that her firing -- and the public insult that accompanied it -- might have something to do with her being a woman would not be doing his or her job. Journalism at the high end, not least at the NYT, is well known to be a VERY hard place for women to succeed (unless you're covering style, homes, fashion, that sort of thing).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This seems like a very trivial thing to hang a charge of sexism on. There is no employee right to give a farewell speech after having been fired. Usually there is a security guard escorting you out as your former friends fail to make eye contact. It is uncomfortable for everyone and no employer wants the fired person going around stirring up trouble after getting bad news. It may be Raines was allowed to resign whereas Abramson wouldn't go quietly, based on the fact that her lawyer was involved.

      Delete
    2. BS. It's not trivial at all, if you work in journalism. Or anywhere. You're being removed from your job, and everyone will know that it's because the boss is firing you, but there are ways to fire and ways to fire. What world do you live in?

      And anyway, the Sulzb's insist that Abramson's lawyer-accompanied challenge about her compensation had nothing to do with her dismissal. You can't have it both ways.

      Or, yes you can, if you're a man like Raines or Keller.

      Another element to consider here. Would a Sulzberger ever treat a Dowd or Collins this way? You bet your bippy not. He felt free to bring the hammer down on a Jewish woman, though.

      There's a lot going on here. Yeah, it's hard to sort, and won't be sorted in a few journalism pieces -- as I keep trying to press here, journalism is daily, always ready to be revised by tomorrow's story, not Kant's critiques of pure or practical reason. The sort of mincing game that Bob is playing here is ludicrous. (Even Kant can't be read well that way.)

      We're not talking a speech delivered five minutes after you've been fired. We're talking maybe a few days of conversation and negotiation later. Security guards? what scenario are you conjuring?

      I am so sick sexism's omnipresence. It's like the air we breath. So maybe Ambramson's story will prove to be a bad case. I dunno. Let journalism do its imperfect work. But don't lose sight of the larger picture: the air is fetid.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousMay 25, 2014 at 1:27 AM -- IMHO workplaces will never be utterly free of favoritisms. To some degree, decisions will continue to be based on sharing some characteristic with the boss, such as religion, skin color, national origin, college attended, hobbies, marital status. Or, based on good looks, or height, or looking right for the job (whatever that means.)

      If you step back and look at the big picture, things are pretty good. The Times did appoint a female Editor and has replaced her with a black. Today, any job is open to any person, as demonstrated by the election of Barack Obama. We may never totally get rid of biases, but IMHO we should be happy about going 95% of the way.

      Delete
  13. In my first year of college I took a history course I wish Bob could have taken. The main take-away from it: explanation does not rest on linking this or that with this or that. You need to look for abiding, substantive connections.

    bob doesn't even look for connections much. He's hung up on trivial failures of logical connection (all in the name of journalistic integrity! ho, b-fans! no one else has noticed since Jefferson that the press is stupid!). Oh, why am I bothering....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, please tell us!

      What have you learned in your second year?

      Delete
  14. Howell Raines: good or bad for black kids? Discuss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Howell Raines was more dangerous for black kids than standard than standard stories.

      Delete

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    ReplyDelete