Journalists aren't quite so blotched from pens and printers, now that the newspaper die-out has wiped out 50 years of advertising gains in a decade. With cleaner shirts, less paper, and worse pay, we're more like carpal-tunnel wretches. We're older on average than we used to be, slightly more moral, and far more lugubrious about the future of our profession.
Here is the state of the American journalist, according to a survey from Indiana University.
1. They're more liberal.
Like the rest of the country, journalists feel more comfortable identifying themselves as independents rather than shacking up with a particular party. But among journalists who align with one of the two major parties, four in five said they're Democrats.
Unambiguous proof of media bias? Perhaps. But this is a poll of all kinds of reporters and editors, not just political reporters. Plus, the rise of explicitly ideological media in the last generation, on TV and the Web in particular, makes the question of "bias" somewhat moot in many cases. If you're getting your news from a source you understand to be liberal or conservative, you're consuming the bias you're seeking. If there were a tremendous shortage of conservative journalists to fulfill the demand for more conservative news, this might actually be good news for those conservative journalists: It should make it easier for them to find a job and demand a high salary.
2. They're sadder about their jobs.
The size of America's newsrooms peaked in 1992, but since then the profession has lost a third of its workers, and 60 percent of journalists say their newsrooms shrunk in the last year. Even before the industry reached its employment saturation point, job satisfaction had taken a plunge, down from a high of 49 percent in 1971.
It might be a heyday for speed, data, infographics, and diversity of accessible media, but not all journalists are feeling the love. A clear majority think the Fourth Estate is headed in the wrong direction.
3. They're older (than you'd think).
America is getting older. Journalists are getting older faster. The industry's median age has increased from 32 to 47 in the last three decades, during which time the age of the typical American went from 30 to 37.
4. They're mostly guys—but that's changing.
The profession isn't getting much more diverse: 92 percent of journalists were white in 1992, and 92 percent of journalists were white in 2012. But the gender makeup is changing pretty radically. In 1971, journalism was 80 percent male. Now it's 62 percent male. And among newer journalists ...
... there are slightly more women than men. To be clear, this graph below shows years in the profession, not age. So while I think it's reasonable to assume that twentysomething journalists are the most gender-diverse generation so far, this chart could also reflect the fact that women are more likely to leave the profession early, either to change jobs or drop out of the workforce (e.g. to raise a kid).
5. They're very, very highly educated...
Journalists have long been more educated than the typical American. In the period that college graduates went from 11 percent to about 30 percent of the country, the share of journalists with a college degree went from 58 percent to 92 percent. (Editorializing side note: Do keep this in mind when you read journalists making the case that college is a waste of time. Maybe this is self-deprecating, or perhaps it even qualifies as a "lesson learned." But a profession where non-college grads are so scarce they practically qualify as endangered instructing the country at large to not go to college is a weird phenomenon.)
6. ...but not rich.
$53,600 as a median salary (for men) is not a pittance. It's exactly the typical household income, according to Census figures, and it represents almost 2X the median per capita income. It's also pretty much in line with a typical bachelors's-degree salary. But, like the rest of the country, journalism wages aren't keeping track with inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, a 1970 salary of $12,000 translates into a $72,000 for men today. Journalists' actual salary today is about 35 percent lower.
I've now written "for men" twice. For women, the median income gap in journalism is considerable. Women make $0.82 for every $1.000 earned by a guy in the 2012 survey. In 1970, she made $0.64. Progress, but not equality.
7. They're more moral.
Journalists in 1992 basically had no ethical code. Or, if they did have an ethical code, it was buried under their aggressively extra-legal instincts to get information by bribes, lies, and hidden microphones. More than 60 percent of journalists said it would be fine to get a job simply to expose the company (the '90s would have loved Edward Snowden) and 20 percent said they were fine with lying to sources or bribing them. Today, we're either more moral, less dedicated to The Truth, more scared of getting caught, or some combination of the three.
Cultural anthropology can help explain why the downturn caught everyone by surprise: Experts around the world tend to focus on the same mathematical models, looking for patterns in the same limited number of places.
Why haven’t more challengers entered the race to defeat the Iraq War hawk, Patriot Act supporter, and close friend of big finance?
As Hillary Clinton loses ground to Bernie Sanders in Iowa, where her lead shrinks by the day, it’s worth noticing that she has never made particular sense as the Democratic Party’s nominee. She may be more electable than her social-democratic rival from Vermont, but plenty of Democrats are better positioned to represent the center-left coalition. Why have they let the former secretary of state keep them out of the race? If Clinton makes it to the general election, I understand why most Democrats will support her. She shares their views on issues as varied as preserving Obamacare, abortion rights, extending legal status to undocumented workers, strengthening labor unions, and imposing a carbon tax to slow climate change.
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Many educators are introducing meditation into the classroom as a means of improving kids’ attention and emotional regulation.
A five-minute walk from the rickety, raised track that carries the 5 train through the Bronx, the English teacher Argos Gonzalez balanced a rounded metal bowl on an outstretched palm. His class—a mix of black and Hispanic students in their late teens, most of whom live in one of the poorest districts in New York City—by now were used to the sight of this unusual object: a Tibetan meditation bell.
“Today we’re going to talk about mindfulness of emotion,” Gonzalez said with a hint of a Venezuelan accent. “You guys remember what mindfulness is?” Met with quiet stares, Gonzalez gestured to one of the posters pasted at the back of the classroom, where the students a few weeks earlier had brainstormed terms describing the meaning of “mindfulness.” There were some tentative mumblings: “being focused,” “being aware of our surroundings.”
After calling his intellectual opponents treasonous, and allegedly exaggerating his credentials, a controversial law professor resigns from the United States Military Academy.
On Monday, West Point law professor William C. Bradford resigned after The Guardianreported that he had allegedly inflated his academic credentials. Bradford made headlines last week, when the editors of the National Security Law Journaldenounced a controversial article by him in their own summer issue:
As the incoming Editorial Board, we want to address concerns regarding Mr. Bradford’s contention that some scholars in legal academia could be considered as constituting a fifth column in the war against terror; his interpretation is that those scholars could be targeted as unlawful combatants. The substance of Mr. Bradford’s article cannot fairly be considered apart from the egregious breach of professional decorum that it exhibits. We cannot “unpublish” it, of course, but we can and do acknowledge that the article was not presentable for publication when we published it, and that we therefore repudiate it with sincere apologies to our readers.
If the Fourteenth Amendment means that the children of undocumented immigrants are not citizens, as Donald Trump suggests, then they are also not subject to American laws.
Imagine the moon rising majestically over the Tonto National Forest, highlighting the stark desert scenery along the Superstition Freeway just west of Morristown, Arizona. The sheriff of Maricopa County sips coffee from his thermos and checks that his radar gun is on the ready. A lot of lawmen wouldn’t have bothered to send officers out at night on such a lonely stretch of road, much less taken the night shift themselves. But America’s Toughest Sheriff sets a good example for his deputies. As long as he’s the sheriff, at least, the rule of law—and the original intent of the Constitution—will be enforced by the working end of a nightstick.
Suddenly a car rockets by, going 100 miles an hour by the gun. Siren ululating, the sheriff heads west after the speeder. The blue Corolla smoothly pulls over to the shoulder. The sheriff sees the driver’s side window roll down. Cautiously he approaches.
Though it wasn’t pretty, Minaj was really teaching a lesson in civility.
Nicki Minaj didn’t, in the end, say much to Miley Cyrus at all. If you only read the comments that lit up the Internet at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, you might think she was kidding, or got cut off, when she “called out” the former Disney star who was hosting: “And now, back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”
To summarize: When Minaj’s “Anaconda” won the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, she took to the stage in a slow shuffle, shook her booty with presenter Rebel Wilson, and then gave an acceptance speech in which she switched vocal personas as amusingly as she does in her best raps—street-preacher-like when telling women “don’t you be out here depending on these little snotty-nosed boys”; sweetness and light when thanking her fans and pastor. Then a wave of nausea seemed to come over her, and she turned her gaze toward Cyrus. To me, the look on her face, not the words that she said, was the news of the night:
The Timeshas a story today on the rise in homicide in some American cities. It’s an important story—one which is hurt by the utterly baseless suggestion that those who protested against Ferguson may well have blood on their hands:
Among some experts and rank-and-file officers, the notion that less aggressive policing has emboldened criminals — known as the “Ferguson effect” in some circles — is a popular theory for the uptick in violence.
“The equilibrium has changed between police and offenders,” said Alfred Blumstein, a professor and a criminologist at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.
Others doubt the theory or say data has not emerged to prove it. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said homicides in St. Louis, for instance, had already begun an arc upward in 2014 before a white police officer killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in nearby Ferguson. That data, he said, suggests that other factors may be in play.
How America’s poor sell the contents of their veins to get by
There is no money to be made selling blood anymore. It can, however, pay off to sell plasma, a component in blood that is used in a number of treatments for serious illnesses. It is legal to “donate” plasma up to two times a week, for which a bank will pay around $30 each time. Selling plasma is so common among America’s extremely poor that it can be thought of as their lifeblood.
But no one could reasonably think of a twice-weekly plasma donation as a job. It’s a survival strategy, one of many operating well outside the low-wage job market.
In Johnson City, Tennessee, we met a 21-year-old who donates plasma as often as 10 times a month—as frequently as the law allows. (The terms of our research prevent us from revealing her identity.) She is able to donate only when her husband has time to keep an eye on their two young daughters. When we met him in February, he could do that pretty frequently because he’d been out of work since the beginning of December, when McDonald’s reduced his hours to zero in response to slow foot traffic. Six months ago, walking his wife to the plasma clinic and back, kids in tow, was the most important job he had.
Alaska has more than $50 billion of oil money in the bank. Why can’t it pay its bills?
WASILLA, Alaska—This state has more money in the bank than most small countries. Decades of collecting royalties and revenues from the companies that drilled for oil on its slopes have endowed Alaska with a $50 billion savings account. Residents pay neither income nor sales tax, and every October, they get a check from the government simply for living in Alaska—this year, the checkcould total $2,000.
But the years of plenty may be coming to an end. As the price of oil has fallen from more than $100 a barrel to around $40 and oil production slows, Alaska is seeing the downside of relying on natural resources to pay the bills. For every $5 drop in oil prices, the state loses $120 million, according to Randall Hoffbeck, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue.
Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
Recently, Bic launched acampaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.
As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.