The Curse of Quotes

THE CURSE OF QUOTES….You say you want some press bashing? Fine. Try reading today’s New York Times story about the adoption of a Bible study course in a Texas school district. It’s a virtual showcase of the worst that journalism has to offer.

The basic gist is that the Odessa school district has decided to offer a supposedly nonsectarian Bible course designed by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. A “growing chorus of critics,” however, say that’s a crock and the course is really designed to indoctrinate students in conservative Christian theology.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all the story has to offer: quote after quote after endless quote from people saying the course is either a fine addition to the curriculum or else a horrible infringement of the First Amendment. In a 1,300 word article, a dozen separate sources are quoted either directly or indirectly. It’s a terrific job of “reporting.”

But what’s actually in the curriculum? We barely get a clue. Out of 30 paragraphs, there are exactly five that include factual statements about what the curriculum contains ? and even those are based on quotes from other people, not from either of the reporters examining the curriculum itself and offering excerpts.

So in the end, what we learn is that a bunch of people are pissed off. And that’s about it. But there are lots of quotes. Quotes by the carload. Somebody call the Pulitzer committee.

POSTSCRIPT: Can you tell I’m in a cranky mood tonight?

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