Over the last year or so, the NYT has repeatedly dropped the ball in news stories and commentaries that involve modern family structures, particularly when it comes to working-class families and ones headed by an unmarried parent(s).
The low points include:
- The spreading (by David Brooks, Jason DeParle, Paul Tough, and Nicholas Kristof) of what I’ve called the “disorganized single-mother” meme.
- Binyamin Appelbaum’s front-page(!) story highlighting some extremely speculative and not particularly well-supported musings in a Third Way report pointing to single mothers as the cause of the college gender gap.
- In a story that got pushback from the NYT’s public editor, Nicholas Kristof saying stuff like “marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty” while failing to note that most low-income parents are married.
So, I was relieved today to read some very good reporting in the NYT on modern American families by science columnist Natalie Angier and others. Instead of simple morality tales in binary structure (i.e., married, biological parents = good for kids; single/unmarried parents = bad for kids), we get stories about seven different modern America families. No Charles Murray, no obsession with the perceived deficits of single mothers, no citations to sketchy research or people working at the Manhattan Institute. Just solid reporting. Let’s hope some of the guys mentioned above are reading it.