Comment 105754

By j.servus (registered) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 08:13:12 in reply to Comment 105722

Thanks for your helpful remark. You raise an important point: There is a difference between reporting and advocating, and it is not always demarcated by a bright line, because sometimes the way we report can be a subtle form of advocacy, or at least reflect our own value preferences. And one has to be alert to that and strive mightily to be fair--which is what a good reporter, like Joey, is doing. And it may be that being honest and open about one's preferences also helps one--and one's readers--control for the way they may subtly shape one's reporting (for instance).

Your comment about your teaching experience illustrates an ambiguity or even an equivocation in the way we use 'preference.' I am also a teacher and I have often had the experience you describe. It is a spontaneous felt 'preference'. But it is not exactly what I mean by a 'considered preference', because 'considered' is adding a discernment, a critical sifting and examination. Good teachers, I think, generally realize that they have to control for their spontaneous preferences for some students. Part of their job, in fact, is to evaluate students; and they know that evaluation is not just a matter of giving high marks to the students they like and low marks to the students they do not like.

The spontaneous, felt preference is very important--it is our feeling for value, and perhaps we would not be able to recognize any values if we did not have such feelings--but it is also just the beginning. It is an invitation to discernment: There is something attractive here, but I have to sort out what it is and weigh its real worth carefully.

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