Substantive Education

September 23, 2010

Journalism 2

Filed under: Education — kbagdanov @ 11:52 pm
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For my Journalism class we are going over some of the governing principles of journalism.  If you missed the first principle you can read it here. Students are to read the following and answer the questions that follow to be sure that they understand the principle.

Its first loyalty is to citizens

While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility, the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture–not exploit–their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations. (more…)


To Kill a Mockingbird

This post is for one of my literature classes.  We are reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and was an immediate success, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.  Since it’s publication it has never been out of print and has consistently been named one of the best books ever written. In fact, British Librarians listed it as the book every person should read before they die…  leaving the Bible to come in at second place.  Two years after the book was published it was made into a motion picture with Gregory Peck in the starring role.  The movie won three Academy Awards.

Oddly, this is the only book Harper Lee ever published.  After it’s success she retreated from the public eye and is rarely seen or heard from.  There are only a handful of interviews that have been given by the elusive author.  She had expected that the book would not be popular, and her publicist had told her they didn’t expect the book would ever sell more than a few thousand copies due to it’s subject matter.  Instead, the book has become a staple on high school and college reading lists, and Atticus Finch has become a modern day role model and hero to many.

The novel is set in a small, tired, Southern town, very like the one that Harper Lee grew up in.  Although she has admitted to pulling from some of her childhood experiences, Lee has tried to downplay the connections saying the people and the town she described could have been anywhere…that people are people everywhere and that each town probably had similar characters.

Truman Capote

What we do know is that Scout’s life parallels Harper Lee’s in some fairly obvious ways.  Her father served in the State legislature and was an attorney.  In 1919, he defended two black men accused of murder. After they were convicted, hanged, and mutilated, he never tried another criminal case. Like Scout, Lee also had a brother four years older than herself, a black maid who cared for the family during the day, and she had gone to the town courthouse to watch her father argue cases. Harper Lee’s next door neighbor was the author Truman Capote (author of In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and many other works) and he was the inspiration for the character of Dill.  Capote reported that he had also used Lee as the model for a character in one of his first books.  The two, Lee and Capote, would remain friends for the rest of their lives and she would help him with his research.  Down the street from Lee and Capote was an old boarded up house which served as the model for Boo Radley’s house.  In real life a family lived there and the son had some legal troubles.  Out of shame the boy’s father kept him shut away in the house for 24 years, until his death in 1952. Obviously, there are parallels to the Boo Radley character. (more…)

September 10, 2010

Journalism 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 12:44 am

This post is for the students in my Journalism class.  Along with working on articles we are also reviewing the principles of journalism.

In 1997 a group of journalist began a national conversation to try to define the principles that guide all journalist.  After 4 years of meetings, public forums research etc. a group of principles were identified.  We are going to be looking at one of these principles each week, and answering a few questions to help students examine the implications of these principles.

Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth

Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can–and must–pursue it in a practical sense. This “journalistic truth” is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built–context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum. As citizens encounter an ever greater flow of data, they have more need–not less–for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context.

How is democracy dependent on a well-informed public?  What role did journalism play in the development of our nation?

What does it mean that something is true in an absolute sense?  Why does that not apply to journalism?

Why should journalist be open about their sources?  Shouldn’t journalist protect their sources?

Comment on the foundation of context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis, and debate.  Why are each critical?

September 4, 2010

Charter Schools versus Homeschooling

This has actually been a difficult article for me to write and one I have put off repeatedly. I was asked again today about Charter Schools and I decided it was time I address the issue.

First,and most importantly, I fervently believe parents should be able to determine how best to educate their children. We, (not the government) will answer to God for the choices that we make regarding our kids, and therefore we should be free to make the one that best fits our family, convictions, and beliefs. That choice can legitimately be public, private, charter or homeschool. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options, and it’s up to you to decide where your family fits. In this article I am not looking to argue for one over the other, or to make anyone uncomfortable, but to address my concerns regarding the confusion between homeschooling and Charter Schools.

The survival of the homeschooling movement, from a legal perspective, may come from making a clear distinction between homeschooling and Charter Schools. Choosing to use a Charter is a viable alternative, it is not homeschooling. This line is becoming very blurred, and I believe this is intentional. It is one way to reclaim lost revenue and undermine the homeschooling system that has developed over the past 20 years, and to regulate and control what is taught in our homes. If we do not recognize the dangers, our children may not be free to homeschool with the same freedoms that we now enjoy. (more…)

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