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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about why professors should not be called upon to rescue newspapers, why the US should teach its students to think critically, and what universities should really spend their money on.

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Don't ask professors to save newspapers

In regard to the March 9 Opinion piece, "Professors could rescue newspapers": Author Jonathan Zimmerman's suggestion that academic writers could help the newspaper industry by writing free of charge misses a basic lesson from US history: Progress in society is made by paying for labor, not by exploiting it.

Academic writers are already underpaid, if they are paid at all. The higher educational system that offered academics tenure in exchange for their teaching, research, and institutional loyalty is changing, and not for the better. Tenured professors are becoming an increasingly rare species. Instead, colleges and universities are hiring more adjunct professors at much lower salaries to do the work that tenured professors once did. Yet, the "publish or perish" rule is still used to perpetuate the earlier culture, wherein academic writers were taught to be unconcerned about monetary compensation or publishing rights derived from their copy.

Employing Mr. Zimmerman's suggestion would pit academic writers against journalists trying to make a living through professional news gathering and writing. Furthermore, it ignores the fact that it is not the salaries of journalists that have brought about the collapse of the newspaper industry, but excessive debt from unwise mergers and acquisitions, as well as management that was slow and inadequate in its responses to the rise of the Internet and the blogosphere.

Not paying writers isn't the answer to saving newspapers, and no one should offer or be expected to write without compensation.





Teach students to think critically

Regarding the March 10 Opinion piece, "Are you a critical thinker?": While I appreciate the intent of author Linda Elder's commentary, I am puzzled as to why she would omit the obvious: No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has handcuffed teachers from being able to spend any time cultivating critical thinking in students today.


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