The Chronicle has some ‘splaining to do

by Henry Farrell on May 4, 2012

I’ve been dealing with the usual end-of-semester lunacy and haven’t had time to do more than goggle at the horror of the blogging trainwreck that is Naomi Schaefer Riley. A pro-tip: when you want to write a “post”: entitled The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations, it is a good idea, at the _very minimum_ to, you know, actually ‘just read’ the fucking dissertations yourself. Whiney follow-up “posts”: explaining that “it is not my job to read entire dissertations before I write a 500-word piece about them” and that “there are not enough hours in the day or money in the world to get me to read a dissertation on historical black midwifery,” might lead the enquiring reader to suspect that you’re a slovenly and incompetent hack. Actually reading the posts in question might lead the aforementioned reader to suspect a variety of other things too. I suspect that Ms. Riley has a bright future awaiting her, involving victimization claims, think tank fellowships and other wingnut welfare goodies. But I wonder what the _Chronicle_ (which isn’t what it was, but is still something) thinks it can possibly get from association with her brandname, and why the hell some editor (they do have editors, right?) didn’t spot this quite repulsive piece and spike it before publication.

Update: @zunguzungu is asking Amy Lynn Alexander, who represents the _Chronicle_ on Twitter (@Chronicle_Amy), whether the _Chronicle_ has any standards for what constitutes acceptable scholarly practice for their bloggers, and if so, what these standards are. He’s not getting any answer.

Update 2: “The CHE’s editor has written a note”: telling us that Ms. Riley has been canned, that the Chronicle fell down on the job, and that it wants to apologize to its readers, several thousand of whom were angry enough to leave comments expressing their unhappiness. Which is all very nice, but I don’t think that it’s the readers who need an apology. It’s the graduate students who had their work trashed by a lazy incompetent hack, who was outraged at the suggestion that she should have read it before throwing slurs thanks to the _CHE._ Perhaps the editor has written to these students privately; perhaps not.