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Tabloid Dirt

Jun 13, 2018 by

The tabloids’ idea of a field day is a pissing contest over which rag can make the biggest splash with its investigative reports about public ( and a sprinkling of privates) school teachers getting arrested for sexual abuse of children and colleagues.
 
Of course these are human interest stories and covering them is in the public interest. And when sensationalism is added to the mix, it becomes a journalistic duty.
 
Their insatiable taste for prurience is encouraged by market research. Nobody imagines that their mission is to cleanse society by promoting awareness of predators in their readers’ midst, rather than dye their ledgers’ ink from red to black.
 
Repulsion sells.
 
In their rush for a scoop, the New York Post and the Daily News are like tow-trucks speeding to the scene of an accident. It is their version of the “early bird gets the worm”, or in the case of the tabloid vultures, the carrion.
 
Both scandal sheets prefer to publish those allegations of salacious conduct that are lodged against public school employees, because that way they can get in a dig against unions at the same time. But if there’s a shortage of red meat in the public schools, they’ll settle for a pound of flesh from the reputation of a private school employee, even in the absence of substantiation. The tabloids are like the survivors of the Andes airplane crash who were forced to scavenge perished passengers because of the scarce supply of sustenance.  They took what they could get.
 
College professors used to be cautioned about the “publish of perish” rule to achieve tenure. The New York Post and Daily News have co-opted that admonition, but instead of printing monographs about some academic specialty, they smear often unverified tales about hideous teachers.
 
On one typical day just last week, there was a story about an ex-headmaster of the over-priced and snooty Dalton private school being sued for sexual abuse. The details are too lurid for graphic description. On the same day there is a different story about a Harlem public school employee being prosecuted for “acting in a manner injurious to a child.”
 
Hardly a day goes by without another nasty banner headline, even when the truth of the charges has not been established. Editors have the prerogative of prioritizing  the theft of a pencil over the collapse of global economy.
 
Readers and all other information consumers should realize that there are many tens of thousands of educators in a city like New York, and if even if every allegation were borne out, which is not the case, the percentage of validated complaints would be a tiny and statistically insignificant fragment of the workforce.
 
Parents don’t need to have their guard up in semi-expectation that their children with encounter exploitation and sexual deviance in school.  It happens, but it’s extremely rare. About as rare as honest coverage of educational issues in the tabloids, especially the New York Post.
 
Ron Isaac

 

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