You might assume journalists don’t ever tire of news. No news, no jobs, after all.
But people who cover certain storylines can be just as affected by their gravity as anyone else. In fact, they can be even more prone to strong reactions, since they are forced to pay close attention to disturbing stories and learn about them in excruciating detail so they can explain them to the public.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart writes about race for the paper. But this week, he described a certain kind of paralysis that can work its way in:
“Sometimes the flow of news can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. And that’s exactly the state I’m in with the veritable flood of deaths of unarmed African American men and boys. … Each video adds another name to a tragic membership list that not only brings heartache to the families left behind, but also haunts those of us who feel duty bound to maintain the roll. Truth be told, I’m not numb. I’m overcome.”
That reminded me of two similar, brilliant essays: this piece by Cord Jefferson, about what it’s like to write about race, and thus, hate, day after day after day; and this from Lindy West on the outrage that can bubble up when you document sexism and misogyny for a living:
“I am tired of being told to provide documentation of inequality in the comments sections of a website where a staff of smart women documents inequality as fast as our fingers can move. Like, you might as well write me a note on a banana peel demanding that I prove to you that bananas exist.”
Whenever a reporter shares a really good tidbit they’ve dug up – proof an official lied; video of a cop beating someone up – I tell them something along the lines of “Great for us, bad for life.” But journalists are human (it’s true, I swear!) and eventually, the bad-for-life part tips the scales.
What VOSD Learned This Week
We’ve spent the past several weeks thinking about building one massive, gleaming new stadium for an NFL team. But this week really drove home the importance of some of the existing buildings right down the street from us – our neighborhood schools.
San Diego Unified has been solidifying a mission for the past couple years to make neighborhood schools so desirable, that hardly any parents in town want to send their kids somewhere else, say, to a charter school or another district school across town. If only wishing made it so.
We got hold of the district’s numbers that show which schools attract the parents in their area, and which don’t. It touched a nerve. Parents weighed in on why they decided to opt for a school other than the one down the street, and we examined the district’s reasoning for why this happens. One factor that doesn’t seem to be shaping most people’s decision-making that one expert says should: quality teaching.
And that brings us to the other big education news of the week. Teachers’ negotiations with their school districts often tend to get heated. But in Poway Unified, teachers and district officials gotten along well, even in tough budget times. That’s all changing, Ashly McGlone reported this week. Then another aspect of the one-time harmony — perhaps not as attractive for taxpayers and students — came to light: Poway’s superintendent and a few other officials have clauses in their contracts that give them a financial incentive to give teachers more money.
What Else VOSD Learned
• No, Super Bowls don’t generate a ton of cash for host cities, and a new stadium probably won’t get us more than one Super Bowl.
• A famous architect says Logan Heights is ripe for some density — but not high-rises.
What I’m Reading
• By the time you read this, I’ll be on vacation in Italy, and I’m excited to travel from city to city by train. But here in the U.S., train service is abysmal. And this fantastic National Journal piece explores why.
• Relevant to my interests: The challenges of editing while female. (Politico)
• When you’re a journalist, you inevitably encounter weird situations and think, “I bet there’s a story there.” Whenever a teenager comes to my door selling magazines, this is the thought that pops into my head. The Atlantic had the same thought, and the story behind these scams and the exploitation of the young people peddling them is amazing.
• Irin Carmon has rounded up some of the wildest arguments against gay marriage, ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court case next week. These are some of the REAL ACTUAL ARGUMENTS being put forward: Gay marriage will kill people. Gay marriage will cause 900,000 abortions. Gay marriage will teach kindergartners to aspire to gay marriages. (MSNBC)
• If you are a regular reader of What We Learned This Week, you will inevitably be exposed to occasional USC football propaganda. This week: A blind football fan inspired USC’s team, now he might become a part of it. Fight on. (L.A. Times)
Line of the Week
“The universal thinking among sports’ male powerbrokers was that women were not physically equipped to endure the rigors of the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. They claimed that the strain would cause women’s uteri to fall out or that they would become musclebound and grow hair on their chests.” – Deadspin