NPR reports on a report

In today’s example of the sorry state of reporting, NPR reports on “a new report.”

I wasn’t even really awake this morning when I found myself thinking, “OK, here comes Brad Wilcox. OK, now here comes Stephanie Coontz.” It’s the Groundhog Day of social science journalism on the family.

It would  be surprising if it wasn’t: A right-wing think tank with academic gloss sets the agenda, and a news organization repeats its framing, adding in a single comment from the most-commonly quoted critic of conservative family distortion (Stephanie Coontz – who does all she can) — which they then undermine with a simplistic conclusion, which was not supported by any actual research: “Gottman’s advice, even if you decide not to tie the knot: pick a partner carefully, then hang in there — for better, or worse.”

Two unusually bad elements of this case: First, the audio version of the story, which is presumably how most people get their NPR, didn’t even mention the Institute for American Values, which is the foundation-funded publicity machine behind the “report.” And second, the deep-pockets have the gall to charge $6.50 for the report (do you just get the PDF?), and require registration for the “executive summary.” Did NPR get past the free, 3-page press release?

6 thoughts on “NPR reports on a report

  1. The NY Times picked up the report today, too. Uncritically of course. When I read the “free” material (in exchange for my email address), it appears to me they actually lament the decline of the single parent family as cohabitation rises. At the least, I presume, the single-mothers were once married? This is quite an example of obfuscation. I plan on using it in my soc. of family course this fall – as an example of parsing “research” and Research.


    1. Thanks, G. The big difference with the NY Times is in the second paragraph: “The report was published by the National Marriage Project, an initiative at the University of Virginia, and the Institute for American Values, two *partisan* groups that advocate for strengthening the institution of marriage.” That is a critical move, since both groups refer to themselves as “non-partisan.”


  2. Absolutely pathetic and predictable. What is really scary is that with the decline of public funding for the social sciences, radical right-wing asshats like Wilcox will be dictating what little data we have on the state of American families. And, the devolution of NPR and the NY Times is just accelerating the dominance of far right-wing framing of family issues.


Comments welcome (may be moderated)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s