Federal shield law on the way?

May 10, 2008

Journalists will breathe a sigh of relief if the federal shield law — which has already passed in the House by a veto-proof margin — also passes in Senate. Particularly in our era of corporate media, with profits so often prioritized over reporting, it’s relieving to see politicians doing something that will help journalists, whistleblowers and, ultimately, the state of our democracy.

I’m thrilled to see this issue receive such bipartisan support, particularly given the (not-so?) heavy hitters mobilizing against it and the divisive, partisan nature of Washington these days.


Can’t imagine this on any college campus…

April 25, 2008

This would never happen today. I’m wondering: What’s caused our culture to change so much?


The violence worsens

April 23, 2008

At least seven people were killed in 36 shootings last weekend in Chicago, and 13 of the victims were CPS students, according to the Tribune. Chicago is not releasing death counts on a daily basis, so the actual count could be higher, the Trib reports. Meanwhile, the AP pegs the death toll at nine.

UPDATE 6:27 p.m. 4/23: And five more killings today.


Why aren’t more people paying attention…

April 16, 2008

… to the spate of poor, minority youth murdered in Chicago?

Here’s the latest news. The count of dead children is 24 so far this school year, after 34 last year.

Here’s two excellent columns Bob Herbert wrote last summer.

This is a bigger deal than NIU; this is a bigger deal than Virginia Tech. It’s time to pay attention. It pains me that so few people in our community are talking about this, or even seem aware of it.


IATs are here, there, everywhere

April 7, 2008

It could just be my own recent exposure to implicit association tests (IATs), but it seems like they’re getting more attention outside academia. Exhibit A: Nick Kristof’s column yesterday. (BTW, Kristof speaks this Thursday at 8 in Leverone!)

I’ve taken Harvard’s race IAT several times (and used it in an experiment for my thesis) but wasn’t aware of UChicago’s test on the shooter effect prior to Kristof’s column. Kristof writes that he was quicker to shoot armed blacks and took longer to holster his gun for unarmed ones. While I was also quicker to shoot armed blacks (649 vs. 707 milliseconds), I took longer to holster my gun for unarmed whites (739 vs. 712 ms). Any interpretations, folks?

A race IAT was a major component of my thesis for LB’s class last quarter. Based on a study at Stanford, which found that undergraduates exposed to the school’s sexual harassment policy displayed stronger automatic preference for men on a gender IAT, my thesis examined whether undergraduates at Northwestern exposed to the school’s hate speech code displayed stronger automatic preference for whites on a race IAT. The result: Nope.

More people should take IATs and consider their biases. Exposing others to these tests could help them better understand how their minds operate.


Wireless-less classrooms

March 31, 2008

In a story on Silicon Valley corporate meetings going gadget-less, an LA Times report notes in passing that 75% of law professors at UCLA shut off wireless Internet in their classrooms.  Anyone think this is worth trying at Northwestern?  Students, would full-scale uprisings break out?

I wonder if there’s any hard data on the effects of Internet usage during lecture classes.  For example, it would be interesting to compare class performances pre- and post-installation of wireless internet in the University.


Apropos of blog party discussion

March 24, 2008

NYT: Even at Megastores, Hagglers Find No Price Is Set in Stone

SAN FRANCISCO — Shoppers are discovering an upside to the down economy. They are getting price breaks by reviving an age-old retail strategy: haggling.

Click for more…


Debt Relief at Harvard Law

March 19, 2008

If your third year of tuition at Harvard Law School could be forgiven, would you agree to practice public service law for the five years immediately following graduation? Elena Kagan, dean of that law school, announced such a program today. If you intended to go that route all along, then lucky you! Will this cause others not so inclined to sign up anyway? Currently, that year of tuition costs about $40,000. How much will a new associate earn in private practice at a respected firm? It would be interesting to see how many graduates take the offer.


Our competition

March 18, 2008

Slate has started a new blog on legal issues, “Convictions,” clearly in response to our growing influence in the blogosphere.

OK, they have some pretty big guns on staff. But so do we. And isn’t our blog’s name so much better?


“Clinton is a monster… and that’s off the record”

March 8, 2008

By now, most politicos know about Obama aide Samantha Power’s little gaffe in which she called Hillary Clinton “a monster” who is “stooping to anything.” (Power, a Harvard professor who’s written for The New Yorker, delivered NU’s Leopold Lecture last year.)

An interesting debate about journalism ethics has erupted from this incident, because Power requested that her remarks be kept “off the record.” The problem: She requested it after making her provocative statements. This raises several issues for journalists.

– How, and when, can a source go off the record? Read the rest of this entry »


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