Kate Nocera, a tenured University of Texas journalism professor, is leaving the university to take over as the executive editor of a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit called Common Sense Media, according to a report on Tuesday in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
In her previous academic role at UT, Nocera oversaw a whole slew of hot-button liberal-leaning topics. She just finished a course on reproductive rights, feminism, and identity politics, which involved students taking a politically charged test on the topic. She also led a course on climate change education and founded a flagship class called “Alternative Factual Facts” which flirted with the notion of falsehoods. She also oversaw the politicized and divisive “School of Journalism” in the university’s School of Information Studies, which was dominated by second-wave liberals, many of whom were suing U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen to lift his nationwide injunction against a UT professor’s obligation to teach free speech.
These high-profile and controversial activities were linked in some way to Common Sense Media, which in the Chronicle report describes itself as “a parent organization for responsible parenting.” With Common Sense Media, Nocera has accepted a $210,000-a-year job that is both an acknowledgement of her influence as the controversial professor, and a directive for her to change course as an author and educator. It reads, “We all have a responsibility to play a role in the positive and compassionate growing up of our children,” according to a blog post she published on the organization’s website.
A big part of her job will be educating parents on how to best keep their children safe and out of harm’s way from advertising, false information, and the dangers of being online.
It’s unclear if or when her tenure at UT will be annulled and she will be allowed to teach in her political sociology classes that include topics like how to organize a protest, or what kinds of educational choices a parent should be given.
The #MeToo movement has created many new outlets for male columnists and opinion writers to voice their repugnant opinions. When it comes to the majority of women who seek to step up to the microphone for the first time, not as many jobs open up. What will Nocera’s new post indicate about her own ideas about the task of re-educating women against the sexism of our time? Will she try to improve the education of women or, and in this case, men?
Remember college professor Sami Al-Arian’s interview with Special Report host Bret Baier last year? Al-Arian was teaching at University of South Florida when he was convicted of terrorism-related charges. Baier asked Al-Arian about his thoughts on women and Christians in light of Quran verses that were interpreted to support violence against the Christian faith. Al-Arian, a former Muslim Brotherhood official, responded that he believed there are two faiths: Islam and Christianity.
Baier: “… by your reading of Islam, do you believe you have to kill these two groups in order to be a Muslim?”
Al-Arian: “Yes, yes.”
Baier: “According to the Quran, do you believe you need to kill men like Pastor Ted Haggard and others like him?”
Al-Arian: “Yes, according to the Quran, yes.”
Yet, despite all of this controversy, Nocera’s previous professional life in journalism has yet to hold her as accountable as it should.
The need for strong journalism and the need for such a brazen free society are dependent on press freedom, but often end up working against the same thing.
The nation’s journalism education system is both deeply flawed and willfully naive. The usual universities are full of desperate, unethical “journalists” eager to find an audience in the eternally crying-for-publicity media markets.
The curious case of Katie Nocera speaks to the challenges and unique opportunities in the “new-age” media landscape.
What remains important in our discussions on journalism education, and the development of a free society, is how to ensure that journalism education does not involve someone like Katie Nocera teaching it. It is up to Nocera and all of us to decide whether the nation’s colleges and universities help open minds by learning to re-educate its students, or mislead them by indoctrinating them with patently leftist theories and a false worldview.
Stephen Justman is the Founding Editor of CultureLoyalty.com.
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