Sunday, February 21, 2021

Media Report (Vol 14, No 2): Pell Grants, Black Literature, Cancelling Shakespeare, American Dirt

Raising Pell: How Industry Support and Federal Grants Improve Prison Education (PND)

The Obama Administration recognized that a coordinated and organized approach from the Department of Education and Bureau of Prisons would improve prison education programs. In the years since, quality education programs – where they exist – remain concentrated and reach less than 10% of incarcerated individuals. Allowing Pell Grants to be used by this population is an important step; however, if educational programs are a hodge-podge of well-intentioned but uncoordinated initiatives, they will only ever be partially successful (if success means delivering an efficacious education program to all who seek it).

Black Kids and White dominated Literature: A Do It Yourself Model (The Conversation)

Although much of American children’s literature published near the turn of the last century – and even today – filters childhood through the eyes of white children, The Brownies’ Book gave African American children a platform to explore their lives, interests and aspirations. And it reinforced what 20th-century American literature scholar Katharine Capshaw has described as Du Bois’ “faith in the ability of young people to lead the race into the future.”

Most likely inspired by The Brownies’ Book, several Black weekly newspapers went on to create their own children’s sections. While the children’s publishing industry may have shut out Black voices and perspectives, the editors of these periodicals sought to fill the void by celebrating them, giving kids a platform to express themselves, connect with one another and indulge their curiosities.

Why are schools cancelling Shakespeare? (WAPO)

Why should students be forced to read Shakespeare, as some teachers on Twitter are wondering? Why, indeed? God forbid they should try to muddle through a sentence by Vladimir Nabokov, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy or, my high school favorite, William Faulkner. I loved Faulkner not because he was easy to read but because I had an unforgettable teacher whose passion shined light on the beauty and the sound and the fury of words.

Not that I’m a literary snob, mind you. I also read all of Harold Robbins’s trashy novels in junior high, much to the furrowed brow of my mother. One night, while I was reading “The Carpetbaggers” by flashlight under my covers, I overheard her say to my father: “Should we be letting her read those books?”

The Management Lessons in David Simon's Homicide (Strategy + Business)

What can we learn from this acute environment? For one, culture matters. The foundation of the work that gets done in the book is a powerful culture built on tradition and values, which the detectives transmit and reinforce in one another. It is a ferociously masculine culture, insular and to a great extent Catholic, expressed in gallows humor, and exalting duty and strength. Being a cop in Baltimore is so dangerous that a tradition has evolved for when someone returns to work after being shot in the line of duty: The officer gets to pick any assignment he’s qualified for.

As Simon demonstrates, this culture sustains the detectives in the face of nearly overwhelming challenges. But it can also be a problem. “Police-involved shootings” are investigated with an eye toward making potential problems go away. The culture also means that the advent of women as detectives is unwelcome to the men, even as they occasionally accept one.

The Implosion of America Dirt (NYMag).  It didn't stop it being one of the years biggest books,

On the publisher’s side, Miller and Don Weisberg, then the president of Macmillan, did most of the talking. The book’s editor, Amy Einhorn, was mostly silent. The executives expressed interest in the activists’ suggestions, but they also wanted to discuss the tone of the online discourse. Miller comes from a generation that prizes “civility,” one employee noted. “He could be accused of tone policing,” added another. Gurba, who had received a barrage of menacing emails since publishing her essay, was disturbed that Miller seemed to be “equating the criticism Jeanine was receiving with the death threats I was receiving,” she said. As Miller and Gurba began to argue over this, one Macmillan staff member blurted out that Cummins had never received any actual death threats. “Everybody just went dead silent,” Gurba recalled.

 Magazines are turning in to Books (CNN)

While many magazines have shrunk or folded in recent years, some publishers see opportunity in bookazines. They are less dependent on advertising — a once reliable source of revenue that continues to be eaten up by tech platforms like Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG). The issues are big, sometimes exceeding 100 pages, but publishers can fill pages with stories and photos from their archives, making them less costly to produce. And they can seize on current trends like keto diets or cultural moments such as the passing of beloved celebrities and other public figures.
"To me, [bookazines] represent a really nice pandemic treat," said Aileen Gallagher, associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism at Syracuse University. "We're all still stuck in our houses and the only place we're really going is the grocery store. It's like, 'Oh, here's this thing that will entertain me for a little while that I will invest $10 in.'"

 Digital subscriptions for content businesses are growing across the board (TheNewStatesman)

In a survey conducted for the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2020, 64 per cent of readers in the UK cited “distinctive journalism” as their primary reason for subscribing to any publication, and 35 per cent of those readers said that they subscribe for particular writers they like. This agrees with what our readers tell us about why they subscribe: for Stephen Bush, Anoosh Chakelian, Jeremy Cliffe, Emily Tamkin, Sarah Manavis and Ailbhe Rea, among many others.   

Our investments in technology and data journalism are paying off, as is our expansion into international coverage, led by Jeremy Cliffe. Our coverage of the US election in particular was widely praised for its insight and accuracy.

 More from my Flipboard magazine

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