Monthly Archives: June 2010

Interesting Article on Journalism

Found here.

For example: If we were able to survey their opinions on the issues that divide left and right, we would undoubtedly find that the people in the political press—the Gang of 500, asMark Halperin calls them—are much more liberal than the population as a whole. We would also find that they are typical of the population in the cities where they work, which formed the basis for this famous column by Daniel Okrent: Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?

But if we were able to engage our political journalists in a deeper discussion we would also find that most of them are skeptical about changing society in any fundamental way. And they are big believers in the law of unintended consequences. So: liberal or conservative? My answer: it’s complicated. One thing we can definitely say: political journalists are cosmopolitans, and they will see the world through that lens. They may also stop seeing it as a lens, and that’s when it becomes an ideology.

But even if we had an x-ray machine that gave us perfect information about the beliefs of the journalists who report on politics, the ideological drift of the work they produce wouldn’t necessarily match the personal beliefs or voting patterns of the reporters and editors on the beat because there are other factors that intervene between the authors of news accounts and the accounts they author.

Take for instance the way professional journalists try to generate authority and respect among peers, or, to state it negatively, the way they flee opprobrium. Here it is important for them to demonstrate that they are not on anyone’s “team,” or cheerleading for a known position. This puts a premium on stories that embarrass, disrupt, annoy or counter the preferred narrative—the talking points, the party line—of one or both of the sides engaged in political battle. An incentive system like that tends to be an ideological scrambler, which doesn’t mean that it scrambles consistently or symmetrically across political lines. It means what I said earlier… this is complicated.

Judge Intervention and the Supreme Court

Another link from Alderete, this time about the nature of judging. Summation quote:

Under such circumstances, justices can no more be neutral umpires—in Chief Justice John Roberts’ famous formulation—than they can be dispassionate microcomputers. You can be the greatest reader of text in the world and the most profound diviner of linguistic meaning, but it still won’t help you in any but the handful of very easy cases, which, as Souter correctly observed, “do not usually come to court, or at least the Supreme Court.” That is precisely why, he added, “the fair-reading model has only a tenuous connection to reality.” It describes a nonexistent universe in which all cases are easy and all the constitutional directives are perfectly clear.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Conditionality Bad Card

Tim Alderete from The Meadows emailed me a card one of his ex debaters cut about education and conditionality (below the fold). I saw this article linked on the dish a few days ago and it seemed to be very debate useful but I didn’t put this particular spin on it. I don’t see a lot of teams read cards on theory arguments, and many judges think it is foolish. Personally I think it is a pretty good strategy, particularly if you are making a big shift in the 1AR to dedicate a lot of time to theory. Judges can call for cards, most won’t call for theory blocks. So in addition to getting some expert opinion into the debate, you give the judge something they can call for and look at after the round. People often don’t realize how important something like that can be to help clarify a rapid fire theory debate.

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Special Edition Podcast: Paperless Debating

With many teams preparing to make the transition to paperless debating next season and many more still on the fence about doing so, we wanted to provide our readers/listeners with insights from three of the pioneers of this transition. In this special edition of The 3NR Podcast, we host a panel discussion of paperless debating with a particular emphasis on the experiences of debaters themselves—from pre-tournament organization to pre-round preparation to in-round execution.

To get this debater-centric perspective on paperless debating, we turned to Ellis Allen and Daniel Taylor, rising seniors at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta and winners of the 2010 Tournament of Champions. Ellis and Daniel were one of the first high school teams in the nation to transition to paperless debating and their insights into the process can provide a helpful blueprint for students now beginning the transition themselves. Joining Ellis and Daniel is Alex Gulakov, a debater at the University of Texas and the creator of the Synergy system of paperless software. Alex has been one of the biggest advocates of paperless debating and is currently working with several summer institutes and debate programs across the country to aid them in the transition.

The discussion—clocking in at just over an hour—covers a wide range of paperless topics that debaters will find helpful. After beginning with a discussion of the transition from paper to paperless, we delve into the specific mechanics of preparing each speech including pitfalls to avoid and tips to improve your debating. There’s something for everyone—including coaches—but our primary goal was to provide debaters with the information they need to confidently make the paperless transition.

As usual, you can download this special edition podcast directly or access it through iTunes. Special thanks to Ellis, Daniel, and Alex for making this podcast possible.