Thursday, April 22, 2010

more award-winning journalism from abdul

abdul hakim shabazz apparently won a journalism award last week... and immediately used the opportunity to take a cheap shot at his critics (then escalating a few days later after one of his critics fired back). if you burst out laughing at the idea of abdul's site being the "best journalism website" in indiana, then you're probably familiar with abdul's work: it's vapid, petty, and what passes for news analysis is usually poorly thought out if not downright disingenuous.

for example, let's take his latest post, about indiana ending its pursuit of "race to the top" funds.

you're probably heard of "he said, she said" journalism, where journalists print quotes from both sides of a dispute and make no attempt to ascertain which side is correct (if either). abdul practices a simpler form—you could call it "he said" journalism—in which he gets quotes from one person and repeats them as unmitigated truth.

behold: here is his post in its entirety:

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett told me this morning that the state is ending its pursuit for "Race to the Top" funds. "Race to the Top" is a federal program that provides up to $4 billion for states that implement reforms in their education system.

Bennett says there was not enough support from the Indiana Teachers Unions for the state to take a second shot at the funds. Lack of union support was the one of the original reasons Indiana lost out on the first round of "Race to the Top" funds.

Bennett told me this morning he made an offer to the Unions to meet him next Tuesday to work out a deal, however they turned him down.

Had Indiana been a "Race to the Top" participant, it would have received hundreds of millions of dollars for education. Bennett says, for him, Race to the Top was more about reforming schools than money.

However, I can't help but think of the irony in all this that the teachers unions whine and complain about more money for schools and as soon as they get an opportunity to get more money they turn it down. Hmmm, it must be that whole accountability thing again.

man, union people sure are a bunch of assholes! i sure am glad abdul made no attempt to get their side of the story, aren't you?

in contrast, here's a taste of how the indianapolis star covered this story last week:

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said he is passionately making a case for reforms he considers crucial to improve the well-being of the state's children.

The presidents of the Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers say Bennett is trying to steamroll teachers in the process and is using unfair tactics. Both have increased their own rhetoric against and criticism of the state.

The debate has come to a head over whether the unions will sign on to the state's second attempt to win stimulus funds.

Bennett has advocated tying job reviews for teachers to their students' test scores, and he has advanced policies that would allow teachers to be paid or dismissed based on job performance rather than years of experience.

wait, so the two sides had a disagreement over some kind of issue? well surely the unions are just being unreasonable...

Bennett held several meetings with union leaders but declined to allow them to see the proposal for the federal grant, saying that other states might steal the more innovative ideas. Both unions were then asked to write letters of support -- for a proposal they had not seen.

emphasis mine. the real story is that the unions were unwilling to sign onto bennett's plan sight unseen. so, rather than share his "innovative" ideas with the unions, bennett decided to not apply for the grant at all.

as doug pointed out last week, perhaps this dispute could've been resolved had the two sides been more willing to work together rather than fire off angry press releases. in the end, both sides lost this one. but surely nobody comes off looking more foolish than abdul, who published an embarrassingly one-sided post that was lacking some crucial details.

the question is: did abdul not know this information, or did he simply choose not to share it with his audience? either one is a glaring journalistic failure, but the former would be merely incompetent, whereas the latter would be downright mendacious. both possibilities are troubling—i'm just not sure which is worse.


Mike Kole said...

Maybe it's just a trend in governing anymore, but Bennett's "Vote for it and then you can see what's in it" approach has been done by others recently.

Indy Student said...

This is hardly new for Abdul. You described it perfectly. He takes a "fact" and then preaches it as gospel.