Saturday, July 9, 2011

All The News That's Fit To Close

Recently in a private Facebook thread, I posted a link to the scandal in the Atlanta public school system, where administrators and teachers stand accused of systematically changing the standardized test scores of students over the course of the last 10 years.

A friend, whom I think it would be fair to call a progressive, asked why I wasn't similarly apoplectic about the recent scandal of the Murdoch-owned News of the World, the nasty but antediluvian British tabloid accused, among many other sins, of hacking into the voice mail accounts of — in no particular order — the royal household, politicians, celebrities, a murdered teenager and 7/7 victims.

He further asked me if I was reluctant to take much of a stand because the perps were journalists. My response was that these people are not really journalists in the sense that most of us define the term. The U.K. tabloid scene is a pernicious subculture of journalism. They're really unscrupulous, unlicensed private investigators who buy ink by-the-barrel.

That's a particularly dangerous combination but it doesn't taint the craft of journalism in the same way as the situation in Atlanta, where hundreds of licensed professionals we entrust with the care and education of our children — and whom we pay with hard-earned taxpayer dollars — violated a sacred trust just to protect their own hides.

Then I stumble on to Mark Steyn's latest column. Steyn suggests just the opposite as my friend. At substantial financial loss, Murdoch has announced the closing The News of the World , which at last count was selling on the order of 2.6 million copies a week. To which Steyn asks:
In reality, Beverly Hall's Atlanta Public Schools system was in the child-abuse business: It violated the education of its students to improve its employees' cozy sinecures.  
The whole rotten stinking school system is systemically corrupt from the superintendent down. But what are the chances of APS being closed down? How many of those fraudulent non-teachers will waft on within the system until their lucrative retirements?

I wouldn't call teaching a sinecure; nor is retirement terribly lucrative, but Steyn is spot-on about the lack of accountability in government. Would that it were otherwise.

It's funny. No matter what we writers choose to write about, there are those who think we should be writing about something else.

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