Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Campus Beat and "Bobblehead Journalism"

May 31, 2004 5:32 pm

The Campus Beat and "Bobblehead Journalism"

On Saturday, Charles W. Nuckolls pointed out how university administrators often use "distraction studies" to deflect embarrasing questions from professors and the public.

Distraction studies can only flourish, however, when reporters covering the campus beat also fail to examine the hard questions. Instead of investigative journalism, their main sources seem to be press releases from campus public relations offices and/or friendly interviews with administrators. Such reporters appear to be more interested in"feel good" articles rather than exploring the possible underside of campus administration including grade inflation, allegations of administrative mismanagement and waste, and officially sanctioned censorship of dissenting points of view. When given possible leads on such stories, they respond with silence.

Unfortunately, Gilbert Cruz, the campus beat reporter of the Tuscaloosa News, is almost a textbook example of such a journalist. One of Cruz's earliest articles for the Tuscaloosa News foreshadowed what was to follow. It was a front-page story describing the upcoming sale of"Bear" Bryant bobblehead dolls.

In a hilarious series of pieces, Nuckolls has examined the subsequent history of Mr. Cruz's not so peculiar brand of"bobblehead journalism." Look forward to more installments in the next few weeks.

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