At Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik writes about a West Liberty University instructor who told her students not to use Fox News for a political journaling assignment:
The instructor at the West Virginia public institution included some possible news sources, such as The Economist, BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. But the instructor also specified that two sources could not be used. One was The Onion, which the assignment notes “is not news” and “is literally a parody.”
The other barred source is the one that got the instructor — Stephanie Wolfe — scrutiny this week. She banned articles from Fox News, writing: “The tagline ‘Fox News’ makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion.”
I faced a similar situation in a class on sports writing. Many of my students wanted to cite the awful Bleacher Report, and while I wanted to outright ban it, I found it much more helpful to simply address these sources on a case-by-case basis and direct my students toward more reliable and thoughtful sources. I imagine they learned more in the process than if I had simply banned the web site at the outset of an assignment.
While I can’t say I’m a Fox News viewer or supporter, such a ban does seem further silly for a journaling assignment, which should be a bit more free-wheeling and open.