Saturday, August 1, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Piece

Aside from the false setup of the lede of this story, which misstates what the professor said, I really think we ought to look at our own actions and quality of work before worrying about how we're portrayed in children's literature. A lot of very good bloggers and other critics are ripping into us every day and we ought to be paying attention to their comments instead of being defensive. If we're right, then stand up. If we're wrong, we need to fix things.

A weak moment of kindness, which doesn't happen often, led me to remove the byline.

Baylor University professor says Harry Potter books may give children negative view of journalism

Could Harry Potter be to blame for the struggling newspaper industry?

No, but a recent study by Baylor University journalism senior lecturer Amanda Sturgill indicates that the immensely popular JK Rowling series of books is not helping.

Sturgill and two others — Jessica Winney of the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Baylor’s Tina Libhart — analyzed all the quotes in the first six books of the series that made any mention of media, including newspapers, magazines, radio and textbooks. What they found is that the books largely “present an unnecessarily pessimistic view of journalism today,” Sturgill said.

And, Sturgill says, because books children read, whether fiction or nonfiction, can play a powerful role in helping children learn about the world around them, there is a good chance that the negative portrayal of journalists in Rowling’s books could sway their perception of the field.

There was an example here and there of positive portrayals of journalists, Sturgill said, but those mostly involve The Quibbler, a tabloid that doesn’t really represent mainstream media.

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