Huston: More Junk Journalism from the Star
For the use of the membership only (465 words).
THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR pulled out all stops in its Sunday, April 12, edition. While it gave priority coverage to the many ways in which Republicans hate gays and dream up ways to discriminate against them, it didn’t neglect the race card.
In an article headlined “Uneven Indiana,” it addressed a problem I have harped about for the past several years: the decline in median family income. The article, however, surveyed this important problem with all the nuance of Al Sharpton, casting it as fundamentally a race problem, which is simply untrue.
I won’t point out all the ways in which this Star story is wrong-headed, but two aspects are notable:
- First is this penultimate paragraph of the story, which sums up the heavy thinking on the problem by the Star reporter: “Local advocates say it also will take policy changes to improve the well-being of Hoosiers most vulnerable to economic shifts, such as strengthening social safety nets, enacting a work-share program and increasing the minimum wage.” Here we have the standard Democratic formula for economic failure.
- Second is the graphic that purports to show how racially unbalanced is the percentage of college graduates in Indiana. The same graphic is spread across the front page above the fold. It shows the startling fact that 87.6 percent of Hoosiers 25 and older who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher are white, while Blacks, Asians and Hispanics, in the aggregate, constitute only 12.3 percent of degree holders.
This vast discrepancy would, indeed, be an outrage if it weren’t for the fact that 86.3 percent of Hoosiers are white. That is, the difference between whites’ share of the general population and their share of degree holders is 1.3 percentage points, or 1.5 percent.
Compare this modest difference with Asians, who constitute 1.9 percent of Indiana’s population but represent 4.1 percent of its college graduates. Blacks and Hispanics are under-represented among holders of four year degrees, but not nearly so badly as the graphic suggests. Blacks constitute 9.5 percent of the population but only 6.1 percent of degree holders, while Hispanics constitute 6.4 percent of the population and 2.3 percent of degree holders.
The Star graphic is either a deliberate attempt to exploit racial grievance, or it is evidence that its staff has no training in either statistics or political science. How could any educated person actually believe that the information in the graphic has any relevance whatsoever without reference to the proportion that each group constitutes of the general population? And what is the relevance of this information to the decline in median family income, which cuts across race and levels of education?
This is a typical example of what passes for journalism at the newspaper, and it is a piece of junk.
— Tom Charles Huston