HKS in the News March 16, 2012

1. Academia, meet the press (Jones and Patterson) The Harvard Gazette

2. The links to violence (Kayyem) The Boston Globe

3. As gas prices soar, U.S. driving habits shift — but slowly (Muehlegger) The Boston Globe

4. Judd based ‘Missing’ character on friend at Harvard (Judd) The Boston Globe

Academia, meet the press
The Harvard Gazette

March 8
Quoted: Alex Jones and Thomas Patterson, Shorenstein Center
Topic: Journalist’s Resource, a new online tool developed by the Shorenstein Center

… Journalist’s Resource, a new online tool developed at Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, aims to put that background knowledge at the fingertips of reporters, bloggers, or even concerned citizens by making the work of academics less opaque and easier to find.

But the website, which curates scholarship on government, economics, society, and the environment, is more than just a reliable shortcut for deadline-driven journalists. It’s also the ever-evolving manifestation of two Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) professors’ mission to promote what they call “knowledge-based reporting” in the mainstream media.

“There is a real need for deepening journalism with verified, high-quality knowledge that informs the kind of serious journalism that makes our democracy work,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center and a lecturer in public policy at HKS.

The thought of a reporter parsing data or perusing peer-reviewed journals before picking up the phone or dashing to the scene represents a bold departure from the way many non-specialized journalists (such as those who cover city news, education, or even politics) operate. Throw in a laptop and a smartphone, and the image of a typical reporter at work hasn’t changed much from the era of “All the President’s Men,” or even “His Girl Friday.”

A familiarity with scholarly research “is not deeply ingrained in the craft,” said Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at HKS. “It’s not thought to be essential.” But, as Patterson — who’s writing a book on the subject — argues, it should be.

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The links to violence
The Boston Globe

March 14
Commentary by: Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Center
Topic: Afghan Massacre

IT NEED not take one US soldier to attack and kill 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, to remind us that war is horrible. The killings have unleashed a steady stream of analysis about why we are still in Afghanistan. But that may be assigning too much importance to one lone soldier. Unfortunately, the Afghan war is bigger, and in some respects more disheartening, than these brutal killings.

But just as it is too easy to define the Afghan war by the killings in the Kandahar province, it is too myopic to view the rampage as the inevitable consequence of too much combat. There have always been shocking massacres, from My Lai in Vietnam to Biscari, Italy, in World War II, when US troops killed Italian prisoners of war. Today, in an age of instantaneous communication, these incidents take on tremendous global impact, making it still harder for a government to make amends. After all, almost 18 months passed between the My Lai murders in 1968 and the first news reports from journalist Seymour Hersh in late 1969.

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As gas prices soar, U.S. driving habits shift — but slowly
The Washington Post

March 14
Cited: Erich Muehlegger
Topic: Rising gas prices

With another year of soaring gasoline prices — the nationwide average is now $3.81 per gallon — Americans are altering their driving habits. But for a country that’s still heavily dependent on the automobile, that’s a slow, painstaking process.

Time to take the Metro? (Andrea Bruce/Staff) Lisa Hymas points to a survey conducted in early March by AAA, finding that 84 percent of Americans “have already changed their driving habits or lifestyle in some way.” About 60 percent said they have started combining trips and errands. Half of drivers are cutting back on shopping trips or dining out less. And there are even hints of more drastic changes: 21 percent of respondents said they are carpooling, 16 percent said they bought more fuel-efficient vehicles, and 14 percent are relying more on public transportation. …

One reason why costly gasoline may have had a limited impact on behavior is that many Americans could well believe gas prices will eventually sink again. A recent NBER paper (pdf) by economists Shanjun Li, Joshua Linn and Erich Muehlegger found that a 5-cent gas tax has more effect on curbing gasoline consumption than a similar 5-cent increase in gas prices. As Ryan Avent comments, “consumers may be more likely to read tax changes as permanent.”

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Judd based ‘Missing’ character on friend at Harvard
The Boston Globe

March 15
Quoted: Ashley Judd MPA 2010
Topic: “Missing” TV Show

Actress Ashley Judd was on “Good Morning America’’ on Thursday to talk about her new show, “Missing,’’ which is about a CIA-trained mom looking for her missing son. Judd told “GMA’’ host George Stephanopoulos that she based her character on a woman she met while studying at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. (Judd graduated with a midcareer master’s degree in Public Administration from the school in 2010.)

“Without having realized it,’’ Judd said, “I think I have partly based [my character] on a classmate who was with me at the Kennedy School. . . . There was a woman who was secretary of state in her country before she came to the Kennedy School. And I think that I kind of based [the character] Becca on her. She just [had] a really amazing presence. Her party would like for her to run for prime minister in her country. She’s got a lot of fear about something bad happening to her family, her children in particular being kidnapped.’’

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