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The ABCs of Journalism

How the ABC network botched a basic news piece on Wheaton College.
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ABC's report of Wheaton College professor Kent Gramm's resignation was an example of sloppy journalism and weak analysis.

The original headline was simply false: "Professor Fired for Getting a Divorce." Gramm was not fired. He resigned because he declined to talk with the college about his divorce. (The image to the right is a screen shot of an earlier version)

Later today, ABC changed the headline to "Professor Loses Job Over Divorce." The headline is still not quite accurate. To lose your job generally indicates that someone took it away from you. However, Gramm voluntarily resigned. And according to the Chicago Tribune, the college offered him another year of employment while he searched for another job.

Also, student Emma Vanhoozer's name was misspelled. Most journalists are extremely careful about getting basic facts like these correct. But reporter Russell Goldman bypassed whatever fact-checking system ABC has set up, if they have one.

Not only are there factual errors, but Goldman imposes his own strange analysis on the situation.

"If the school is free to impose its beliefs on divorced family members where does the law draw the line? Could the school just as easily impose arranged marriages?" Goldman writes.

Yes, that's the big looming threat here: forcibly arranged marriages. Someone has been reading too much coverage of the raid on the polygamist sect's ranch in Texas.

January/February
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