Thursday, January 05, 2012
Was the New York Times Used by Duncan Law School (or were readers duped by the Times)?
The theme of the final installment of the New York Times series on law schools, "For Law Schools, A Price to Play the A.B.A.'s Way," was that ABA accreditation is to blame for high tuition. The story revolved around the effort of Duncan School of Law to obtain provisional A.B.A. accreditation. In the article, Duncan administrators and the main benefactor complained that accreditation regulations were "massive, just massive." Without these requirements, they claimed, "Duncan could have cut its tuition in half, maybe by two-thirds."
All of Segal's articles have glaring questions that were not asked or, maybe, even considered.They read like opinion pieces more than articles designed to investigate a phenomenon. He started with a position, and gathered information to support his pre-formed notions. As you indicate, the articles did raise important questions. But Segal had neither the inclination nor, perhaps, the capacity, to deal with these issues in a coherent manner. The Times refused to print responses from some pretty prominent folks who wrote in to challenge some of the things he wrote.
Readers were given the chance to ask Segal questions after this last article. His answers showed that he is clearly in over his head in these matters. Someone asked about the antitrust implications of the ABA seeking to limit law schools, and he wrote as if he had never heard that this was ever thought to be a problem. In other venues people from Tennessee pointed out that the state already has a lower cost alternative to higher priced private institutions-- the University of Tennessee. They are subject to all the ABA requirements, but manage to deliver education at a lower cost than Duncan. What gives? That should have been a feature of the piece, if there was not already a pre-fab conclusion that the author wanted the reader to accept.
Also, there are at least ten states that offer alternative ways to get a law license. How could a journalist champion the notion of alternatives to law school, and pay no attention to the ones that already exist. That should be as basic as "who, what, what, when, where why" Just as a matter of simple curiosity, which a journalist must have, why wouldn't the existence of alternatives be a feature of the article, if only to explain why those alternatives aren't taken by more people.If they aren't attractive, why aren't they attractive? How should new alternatives be different? I think the whole thing has been a mess.
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