Tag Archives: academia

Getting a PhD was the best decision I ever made. And the worst.

American businesses are anti-intellectual. American universities are anti-relevance. The gods help the overeducated schmuck stuck in the middle.

Hi. I’m Sam, and I’m a PhD.

Hi Sam!

CATEGORY: EducationFor those of you who don’t know me, I have a doctorate. Communication, University of Colorado, 1999. Some days it’s the thing I have done in life that I’m most proud of. Other days I think it’s the worst mistake I ever made in my life. There are days where I think both things more or less at the same time.

A couple of recent articles address my frustration and ambivalence. Continue reading Getting a PhD was the best decision I ever made. And the worst.

Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2

Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric

The Signal-to-Noise Journey of American Media

The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.

In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Continue reading Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2

CU and the Churchill Affair: how did this happen in the first place?

The wait is over and the inevitable has happened: the University of Colorado yesterday formally dismissed Professor Ward Churchill. Interim President Hank Brown explained, in an open letter to the school’s donors:

To help ensure that accountability, we cannot abide academic misconduct. More than 20 faculty members (from CU and other universities) on three separate panels conducted a thorough review of Professor Churchill’s work and unanimously agreed that the evidence showed he engaged in research misconduct, which required serious sanction. The record of the case his faculty peers developed shows a pattern of serious, repeated and deliberate research misconduct that fell below the minimum standard of professional integrity, including fabrication, falsification, improper citation and plagiarism. Continue reading CU and the Churchill Affair: how did this happen in the first place?