Monday, September 10, 2012

The Twitterverse: ABC's 'Nightline' host pwnd

Terry Moran, host of ABC's Nightline, misquotes a NYT article in order to bash Chicago teachers getting a "pay increase."

I know we all get up to saying something stupid on the internet, but come on! Sometimes those 120 characters really count, especially when you are the face of a major network hard news program. Using that platform to bash teachers might not be the best use of Moran's time. Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind, sets the record straight: 
In our exchange, Moran links to this New York Times article to justify his claim that “teachers make an average of $74,000/school-year in Chicago and most were offered a 19 percent raise.”
A few points, in no particular order.
First, the Times piece doesn’t say the teachers were offered a 19 percent raise. It says:
Late Sunday, Mr. Emanuel told reporters that school district officials had presented a strong offer to the union, including what some officials described as what would amount to a 16 percent raise for many teachers over four years.
I’m not sure how Moran went from 16 to 19. Perhaps he read this tweet last night from Bloomberg journalist and self-described “coastal elitist” Josh Barro, which was making the rounds, and mistook management for the union. Barro, like Moran, was also operating on the wrong information, and later had to walk back the claim.
In any event, a 16 percent raise over 4 years works out, at best, to a four percent annual raise.
Except that…
Second, as Doug Henwood points out, Chicago is also asking the teachers for a 20 percent longer school day.  Once you take that and inflation into account, the four percent annual raise works out to be a cut, not a raise.
Third, according to the Chicago affiliate of ABC News—Moran’s network—David Vitale, head of the Chicago School District, says that the city is offering a 3 percent raise the first year, and 2 percent raises for the remaining three years of the contract. That hardly works out to a 16 percent raise. 9 percent at best. As Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Chicago resident and history grad student at Northwestern, explains to me, the city hasn’t revealed how it came up with that 16 percent figure, but the best guess is that it includes other things like step increases, which are based on seniority. Contrary to what Moran suggests, it is in no way is an increase in base pay.
Fourth, as Doug also points out, BLS statistics indicate that the average pay for Chicago teachers is $55-60 thousand, not $74,000.
And fifth, the Times takes great pains to stress that it is citing management numbers. Setting aside the fact that those numbers appear to be wrong, how hard is it for Moran—a journalist—to take that into account in his statements? Even the most simpleminded definition of objectivity—report both sides of the story—would suggest a certain degree of skepticism on his part.

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