Patriots win AFC championship, Boston Globe wins the Cliche Bowl

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Sportswriting is hard. You’re writing about things that have happened many times before, and on a deadline. The inevitable result is overblown exaggerations, overused cliches, hackneyed player quotes, and generally flaccid writing. Case in point: the Boston Globe’s coverage of the New England Patriots’ come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in yesterday’s AFC Championship game. We’ve … Continued

To Jeffrey D. Sachs: sprinkling tech on politics makes it worse, not better

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In an op-ed in today’s Boston Globe, the influential economist Jeffrey D. Sachs laments the lack of trust in modern American politics. He then proposes that we solve it with (among other things) “e-parties” and “e-governance.” But proposals like this ignore the way that trolls and partisans now wreck every online social space. Sachs’ op-ed, … Continued

Why all this talk about the “median” income?

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The US Census Bureau released figures yesterday showing that, in 2015, the median annual household income in America increased by 5.2% over a year earlier. That’s an increase of $2,798, to $56,516 per year. Why talk about the “median” and how is that different from an average? I’ll explain. Put simply, when you’re talking about income, the … Continued

Why students shouldn’t write on a smartphone

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If you believe the Boston Globe or the Wall Street Journal, students are increasingly writing papers on their phones. While there are some benefits, teachers ought to discourage it, since it interferes with reflection and promotes a pernicious first-draft writing habit. The articles on this topic are anecdotal Like most trend pieces, both of these articles are … Continued

Analyzing the Boston Globe’s fake Donald Trump front page

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My Boston Globe arrived yesterday with a second, scary front page, dated April 9, 2017, featuring stories from a future Trump presidency. (It’s actually the front of the Sunday op-ed section, an illustration for an op-ed article called “The GOP Must Stop Trump.”) Donald Trump, predictably, responded by calling the paper “stupid.” Having written pretend stories about … Continued

Comparing apologies: Oscars vs. Chipotle vs. Boston Globe

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Three organizations have screwed up recently: The Motion Picture Academy nominated zero actors of color for Oscars, Chipotle made its customers sick, and the Boston Globe couldn’t deliver papers. I wanted to follow up on my recent posts about Chipotle and the Globe, and see if the Academy Awards folks could do any better. All three needed to … Continued

In the Boston Globe’s crisis, blame the Globe, not digital disruption

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The Boston Globe is now a week into its epic delivery mess. You could blame digital disruption, but you’d be wrong. The Globe’s management did this to itself. First, let me single out the Globe’s journalists for praise. In the wee hours Sunday morning, reporters volunteered to help deliver papers. (I love Hiawatha Bray‘s caption for this photo … Continued