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06 May 2013

Extry Extry! Soc All about It!

More often than not, when I encounter overt sociology in the media, it is in the op-ed section. While there really is no such thing as bad press, it seems insidious that sociology, when it does show up, is relegated to the subjective portion of the paper or website. Symbolically, this quite clearly segregates what our social science does from what is "really" going on in the world, as if we are speculating instead of rigorously gathering and analyzing data. Certainly, I would rather have the public encounter sociology in the op-ed section than not at all; ideally, these pieces would instead show up next to other pieces of hard news. Does this mean that sociologists should stop writing op-ed pieces? I'm not so sure I'd advocate that. I do think, however, that prominent sociologists who are invited to write such pieces are in a position to raise this concern with editors. More importantly, as educators, I think we sociologists have a real duty to foster a sociological imagination in future journalists when they do grace our classrooms.

For great examples of what sociologically informed journalism looks like, be sure to keep up with The Society Pages Media Award for Measured Social Science!

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