The UW in Comments at the Seattle Times

A colleague on the AAUP Listserve bemoans the criticism he finds in comments on the blog run by the Seattle Times,.

I think my colleague is worried about the wrong problem.  The Times itself is a relic, a wrecked ship afloat on the remains of Blethen family fortunes.  The website is likely better read than the paper version, but the crowd there is not much of a sample of what our neighbors feel. If you want to hear even worse comments about us, listen to the talk shows on KIRO, the tirades by Dori Monson against us and the accolades from his listeners.

Things do not get much better if you try an look at a broader spectrum of media.  I am far more worried about what I read from comments at the Stranger, Sound Politics, HorsesAss, Tacoma Herald Tribune or the the NW Progressive.

As bad as all this is, I am even more upset by the lack of knowledge among our politicians about what we do.  Let me give you an example.

Jim McDermott is very popular amongst most of us and represents us a Congressman from the 7th Districyt.  Jim is also an outspoken advocate for government healthcare.  So, how does it happen that Representative McDermott published an article in the New England Journal on how to educate primary care physicians? Jim ignored  ignored the UW School of Medicine (we are rated number 1 in family practice and rural medicine) and extolled a less than reputable campus in Texas. Imagine what a great job he does in promoting us amongst his voters!

The sad thing is that “we” (the UW) have done an utterly awful job of adapting to the change in media.  The UW’s own websites are dreadfully boring.  Even when really good things happen here, the best “we” present to the public is stilted press release copy.  Our neighbors see “us” through Husky Hype.  The Daily, sadly, has not found a leadership model that transcends its quarterly change in student editors (does anyone OFF campus read the Daily?).  The Faculty Senate finally (this year) created a blog but then closed it to off campus access.

Remember the line from POGO?  We have met the enemy and they are us?

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