Supplemental: Amazing days at the New York Times!

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2015

Terrible, horrible work:
We did a dumb thing a week ago. We accepted an offer to upgrade to the free new exciting Windows 10, or whatever it is.

As part of the package, we're having problems creating and posting documents. For that reason, let's keep this post brief.

It's very, very hard to grasp how bad the work of the New York Times routinely is. We're thinking of two offerings from today's Times.

First, we refer to the public editor's assessment of the Dowd/Biden/Chozick/Baquet/Sullivan rolling embarrassment tour. Also, we refer to a news report which may be the dumbest report we have ever read.

The public editor's piece would be an embarrassment to the Times if the paper and its staff possessed that capability. The news report may be worse. We expect to examine each piece in some detail at some point. But for today, we'll just give you the links, assuming we'll be able.

For Margaret Sullivan's assessment of the Dowd/Biden mess, you can just click here. We've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of much of this public editor's work. This lazy assessment of Dowd's column demonstrates a terrible factin the end, Maureen Dowd embarrasses everyone with whom she is associated.

Everyone pretends not to notice this state of affairs. But the degradation does take place, whether acknowledged or not.

For the news report to which we refer, just click this. It reports a stunningly obvious non-surprise "surprise" about the public schools.

In this news report, the Times' David Leonhardt comes very close to saying this:

A new study has shown that the sky is blue.

A serious paper would be ashamed by the inanity of that news report, and especially by what it suggests about the Times' previous education reporting. That said, the Times just isn't a serious paper. It's very hard to grasp that fact, but it's clearly true.

Please note: Leonhardt's news report is accurate. It would also be accurate to report that the sky is blue or that airplanes can travel much faster than horses.

Leonhardt seems to think he's reporting news in his putative news report about that new study. In truth, the Times shouldn't be embarrassed by Leonhardt's report. The Times should just be ashamed.

We'll discuss each topic some other day. For today, just take our advice:

Turn down your all-free new and improved Windows 10 or whatever it is! Without even knowing it, you'll be glad you did!

20 comments:

  1. Yes, the Public Editor way understated what Dowd wrote:

    PE Maureen Dowd’s column — which did say that Beau Biden wanted his father to run... There is no mention in the column of a deathbed conversation or hand-grabbing, and there is mention of father and son sitting at a table.

    Dowd: When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk.

    “Of course, honey,” the vice president replied.

    At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.

    My kid’s dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I’m O.K....

    Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values....

    When Beau was dying, the family got rubber bracelets in blue — his favorite color — that said “WWBD,” What Would Beau Do, honoring the fact that Beau was a stickler for doing the right thing.

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  2. OMG! The folks at the Urban institute looked at NAEP scores. We can't have that if we want to convince everybody that schools are getting worse.

    More seriously, I am curious what issue Somerby has with Leonhardt's report. It seems like straightforward description of a study.

    To my mind, the problem is that Leonhardt reports almost in isolation, he refers in only a small any way to public policy or political debates on education, which might be better informed by this.

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    Replies
    1. I can answer your question. I wrote to Bob about this article. He responded

      The NYT reports this today as if it's a startling new discovery. It may be the dumbest report I've ever seen in a newspaper.

      The report is by David Leonhardt, Brightest Man at The Times. Perhaps it's a Halloween spoof.

      These people are very strange...

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    2. "Please note: Leonhardt's news report is accurate."

      The report is an embarrassment in that it reveals the great bulk of prior education reporting and opinion pieces at the NYT as having been driven almost entirely by "received wisdom" and ridiculously uninformed by any understanding of the NAEP, state-level education results, or actual trends in student performance.

      As a frequent defender of Somerby against what I consider to be the plague of trolling at this website, I feel I should add this comment:

      Somerby has for a long time clearly wished for a sea change in education reporting, at NYT and elsewhere. It is a simple fact that, if and when any such change occurred, it would be bound to shame the prior reporting.

      So yes, it is indeed a "sky is blue" report.

      But when you have been pretending to report on education, pretending that the sky is dark and that the US public education system shows nothing but gloom, pretending, year by year, that education in Texas is backward and ought to be the subject of derision, such a report should actually be quite welcome.

      It deserves to be widely read, as its subject matter will probably indeed come as a "startling new discovery" to many readers weaned on the paper's traditional diet of education misreporting. I hope it is not just a passing blip.

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    3. Thanks for the answers, both of you! It makes sense. And now that you mention it, I recall that an NYT writer notably (with possibly deliberate ignorance) unfairly slammed Texas schools not so long ago.

      In my senior seminar for computer science students, I have them use the NAEP Data Explorer, discover the difference that disaggregation makes, and see why this happens. (It has the added benefit of running against some of their existing notions of public education.)

      It is from Somerby that I learned of the NAEP data explorer, by the way.

      Delete
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  3. Someone email Bob Somerby this [LINK]. I think he'd be better off working through his Windows 10 problems by staying away from the Edge browser for a while, then again, maybe an old blogger can't learn any new tricks beyond transitioning to blogspot.

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    1. Best post so far, by far - nice jab! I literally did laugh out loud, thanks.

      C'mon, Bob!

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  4. WRT Biden: He apparently felt he was denying something which had been reported. The NYT is hanging its collective hat on, "it wasn't *our* story he was denying!"

    Wonder exactly what he was denying then.

    Did ANYBODY report a Hollywood style death-bed conversation? Maybe Biden only hallucinated that. I am sure no paper ever reported it that way.

    [/snark]

    Biden has covered both his own ass and Dowd and the NYT's. He's denied something they can claim they didn't technically do. Preserves the relationships. Hoodwinks the rubes. It's a good thing he's out of the race, in my opinion. But I do think he's a masterful manipulator of people. We could've done worse for a President.

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  5. "Windows 10, or whatever it is"

    Heard reports from some they finally were able to get everything working. Some say depending on the program look under Help or Tools menu then run Diagnostics or Repair. Use at your own risk.

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  6. DON'T downgrade.

    Just make sure to use Internet Explorer instead of Edge (the default fancy blue E on the taskbar). Search for Internet Explorer and it will pop up. Or, you know, use Google Chrome.

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  7. Slightly off topic: On the subject of bad reporting by the New York Times, this critique of a series of articles about manicuring shops is devastating: https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/27/new-york-times-nail-salon-unvarnished

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  8. I had Windows 8 on a machine. It was so, so bad. I switched to Apple.

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  10. Why does adjustment make a huge difference for Florida and Texas but no difference for California, which is just as diverse?

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