Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NZ Herald: No poof teachers?

The New Zealand Herald reported in a story today that a survey of primary school principals in New Zealand found that “many primary school principals believe male primary teachers should be heterosexual, rugby-playing ‘real men’”.


Nowhere does the article present any evidence to back its opening claim. It reports “the main reason [more male teachers were needed] was to meet the needs of single-parent children. Seven per cent specifically mentioned the need for a ‘father figure’… Sports leadership was the second most cited reason why more male role models were needed in schools.”

And this indicates homophobia how, exactly? Instead of providing supporting evidence, the article uses a great deal of space to quote people saying how the results seemed “strange” and how sexual nature was the "absolutely wrong thing to focus on". Most of the quotes went to the study’s author decrying homophobia and sexism in schools.

The survey was based on a mere 169 responses out of 250 sent out beginning three years ago. Apparently the Herald’s reporters have no idea how flawed that is as a survey—which is how they reported it. If they want readers to accept their take on the survey, they should have reported the true results and not just quoted the study author extensively to “prove” something that, we must assume, the actual results did not.

If the Herald writers had presented even a shred of evidence to back their claim, then this post might be about the substance of the study. But with such truly awful reporting I can only—once again—criticise the Herald for apparently manufacturing a story where none exists.

Of course, I’ve criticized the Herald before for apparently manufacturing news. Somehow, I doubt this will be the last time.

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