Thursday, February 26, 2004

Douglas gets fan mail 

As I noted in the Sunday's St. Olaf discussion, Douglas at Belief Seeking Understanding had taken a more critical view than most of the article about the teach-in written by Kevin Duchschere. Duchschere responded to Douglas about Duchschere's article and Douglas' critique.
You seem to suggest that I should be drawing overt conclusions from what's happening. Reporters who cover a subject over and over again can write with such authority, but in this instance I spent a couple days talking to people I've never met about a situation I've never addressed. For me to draw conclusions in the story itself would have been foolish and wrong-headed. In such cases our job is to lay out the facts as we find them, and assemble them in such a way as to allow you to do the judging.

Much of what you find lacking in the story is what we call 'inside baseball' -- interesting and intriguing to you, of course, but you must remember I'm writing 30 inches for a wide, general audience. Getting into Horowitz would require another story.
I think in part that's correct, assuming Duchschere was new to this. It does make you wonder why they put him on this story -- I don't know what area he normally covers, but he's not the usual person they put on higher education stories. He may have fallen onto a much better story than was believed when he was assigned to it.

I don't know if he's judging what part of the story is "inside baseball" and which is not. If he's really new to this, I don't know why I'd trust that judgment. But I do agree with his judgment on this point. is reporting what St. Olaf officials told me 'uncritically accepting' of it? The story itself is proof that we didn't accept what they were saying -- otherwise, we never would have run it. You don't believe we ought to offer the college's reaction in their defense? Again, this wasn't a commentary based on my analysis, it was a news story.
I agree with that; I can't see any facts pertinent to the story that Duchschere omitted, which is why I said he did a good job. That doesn't mean that I think he grasps the full import of the event. I don't think that's necessary. He went, he saw, he interviewed, and he reported what he saw and interviewed, structured in a way to suggest that there were two sides to the story but not slanted towards either one. For that, we hope he gets more higher ed assignments.