Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Empty Trend Story

The trend story is a particularly noxious form of journalism, making broad claims about society while eschewing anything resembling data collection beyond the anecdotal. Every now and then, you find one so egregiously bad, it exerts a strange sort of fascination — as this New York Times thumbsucker from Anemolla Hartocollis, "On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces’". This graf:
Conservative students who voted for Mr. Trump say that even though their candidate won, their views are not respected. Some are adopting the language of the left, saying they need a “safe space” to express their opinions — a twist resented by left-leaning protesters.
Okay, so we're going to get an example of this soon, right? Well, not so much, and in fact nowhere in this piece is a single conservative person or group interviewed claiming they need such a thing. The closest it comes to that destination is this passage:
Ibtihal Makki, a self-confident senior in a pink hijab who is studying biopsychology and neuroscience and is chairwoman of a student government diversity committee, objected to conservatives on campus saying they needed safe spaces to express their views.

“To turn around and say that they need safe spaces after their candidate won I think is ironic and hypocritical,” Ms. Makki said.
Could we maybe actually quote those people making those demands? Or is this a whole-cloth fabrication of Ms. Makki's? Were the demands made ironically (i.e. is she omitting crucial context)? We certainly wouldn't know from the article. Speaking of fake news...