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Is Breakfast Necessary?

The idea that early eating is essential makes perfect sense for farm laborers and small children. Whether it matters for normal, sedentary adults is a different question. Many—if not most—studies demonstrating that breakfast eaters are healthier and manage weight better than non-breakfast eaters were sponsored by Kellogg or other breakfast cereal companies whose businesses depend on people believing that breakfast means ready-to-eat cereal.  Independently funded studies tend to show that any…

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Why won’t the University of Maryland talk about the chocolate milk/concussion study it was so eager to promote?

I took note of this University of Maryland chocolate milk press release while prepping a freshman writing class. What a PR disaster. Here’s an update: University of Maryland issue multiple news releases about a health research project… and then decline to talk about it? That’s just one of the questions piling up about research involving high school football players, concussions and a brand of chocolate milk. […] While the University of…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…

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Kids Turn Bratz into Star Wars Rey Dolls

Sometimes, I catch myself thinking there may be hope for the future.    There has been something of an outcry over the toy merchandising associated with Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the apparent dearth of Rey dolls in play sets (Rey being the lead female character in the film). Parts and Crafts, a family makerspace and community workshop based in Somerville, MA, decided to take matters into their own…

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When Asking the Question is Part of the News Story (New Example: Clinton Supporters)

I ask my journalism students to avoid using the phrase “When asked about…” as a default transition in news stories. While they are taught in freshman comp classes to introduce their quotes and then explain the significance of the quotes, to a journalist that’s just filler. This story from the Daily Mail (a UK publication which has a reputation for being gossipy and conservative) covers shows pictures of teens and…

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ALL ABOUT ‘ARCHIE’ – Jason Robert Brown

A few years ago, my daughter got to perform in a Stage Right summer camp production of 13: The Musical. The show’s dark humor and tween angst, and stunning performances by the young cast, made it one of my favorites. Here is a thoughtful essay written by the show’s creator, about one of the lead characters, Archie, who is bullied and ostracized for having a terminal disease (but who is…

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The Chronicle of Higher Education Announces Plan to Limit, Curate Comments

By 2016, the terrain has shifted. Publications of all stripes are re-examining what it means to engage with their audiences and to encourage productive conversations. Quite a few of those conversations — including ones about our work — have already moved to social media. Many publications have played down comments or eliminated them altogether; others have gone in the opposite direction, devoting more time and energy to shaping discussions. Comments have…