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End the Anecdotes

typewriter-1245894_1920It’s becoming a trend for publications to solicit reader stories. The New York Times has recently begun to fill my Facebook news feed with requests for comments from readers. An example: “Tell us a personal story about raising feminist boys, or ask us a question. We may publish a selection of the responses, and some experts in the field will respond to them.” The resulting article featured a selection of the anecdotes the paper received coupled with responses from “some experts in the field.” Early this month, the Forward put out a call on their website, asking “What makes a college perfect for Jewish students?…The Forward wants to hear from you.” The site provides a Google Form with a survey for students, parents, and professionals to fill out, asking respondents to share what was most and least important in their college selection process.

In a vacuum, it seems innocuous for newspapers to occasionally turn to their readership to gather information about current issues. What better way to learn about feminist parenting or Jewish college choices than to ask feminist parents or Jewish college students to share their stories? These choices by the media are only clearly harmful as they accumulate over time and become increasingly commonplace.