Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Grups Award: Drawing a Blank

Because I enjoy complaining, I was itching to hand out a Grups Award this weekend. And when I saw the headlines to two pieces (one in the NY Times, one from the AP), I was just aching to waste some energy on whining about them. But, sadly, neither of them were worthy of a Gruppy.

Here's the first non-Gruppy article: The Bank of Mom and Dad from the NY Times. Damn, I thought this was a sure thing. The Times sometimes attempts to call trends based on almost nothing (remember when all those women were quitting their jobs to become housewives a couple years ago. Yeah, neither do I.), but this time, they did right. In this article on kids who continue to take money from their parents well after college graduation, they spoke to the author of a massive study, they cited figures from said study, and they didn't try to predict the future. In short, they did a trend piece that is pretty good. It just describes something that is happening, makes a few tentative calls on why this is happening, and doesn't generalize. The biggest problem is that it doesn't mention the percent change through time (i.e., How much money were parents giving their kids thirty and forty years ago versus today?). The closest it comes to answering the question is quoting Bob Schoeni the study's author as saying, "Certainly over the last couple of decades it has been increasing." So, unless the study is flawed or Schoeni is lying, well, it's a pretty good trend piece.

The other article, which comes closer to winning a Gruppy is this AP piece the headline of which screams "Americans Are Fleeing Big Cities." Now, I read a headline like that, and I figure in a couple years I'll be buying a townhouse in Chelsea. Also, I'll be rollerskating up the middle of 5th Avenue during rush hour. Actually, I don't figure on either of those things - because I am not a moron. Basically, the census released a report on Domestic Immigration in the United States (meaning where Americans are moving within the country) and found that among other things, Americans appear to be leaving large cities (and the Northeastern states) more than they are moving to them. The sin in the article is one of ommission, it doesn't mention that populations are growing in major metropolitan centers (including New York) because of births and international immigration (so the net Domestic Immigration loss isn't enough to cause the populations of cities to start shrinking). It's an annoying, slightly alarmist take on the census study, but it's not quite Grupsworthy. You win this round, massive newsgathering organization! And I lose: no townhouse for me.

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