Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keeping up the New York Times Standard of Journalistic Excellence with the Choice Blog

The education section of the New York Times is impressive both in content, format and the services it provides. And one section that stands out is its “The Choice” blog which sets out to do what it promises – “Demystifying College Admissions and Aid.”   With the wealth of information on this, can it do the job?

A Demystifying Focus

The site is the brainchild of the New York Times Education columnist Jacques Steinberg and a few colleagues in the paper backing him up to meet their
”demystifying” crusade by examining the various facets of the college admission process to bring them down to the understanding of students across all social strata.  Needless to say, the site is consistent with the look and feel of the online broadsheet and is quite a long page, presenting its blog articles on the left column and the content sections on the right.
  • The main page is one of the longest for a blog site with the current 10 articles each presented in about 70% of its entirety. The articles are basically news articles written in casual first and second person style, well written and are insightful in their content from authors and contributing editors of the broadsheet.  You have articles like “I Am In, I Am Going to College,”  “Colleges Report 2011 Admission Figures,’ and “Former ‘Idol” Contestant to Sing About College on High School Tour,” just to give you an idea what the blog’s current site carries.
  • The left column carries the regular and highlighted articles of past and present that fall into sections such as Welcome to The Choice, Admissions Data, Education Life, Comment of the Moment, Archives, Blogroll and Categories, including the regular by-line from Mr. Steinberg, “By the Blogger,” currently talking about “The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.”   
  • The Categories section is a wealth of interesting articles that put present and past blog posts into distinct areas from A to Z.  You have specific topics grouped together For Parents, For Seniors, For Juniors, Admissions Buzz and Lore, Paying your Way, Testing and The Envelope Please, to mention the more interesting ones. 
Strengths and Weakness of the Site

There’s no dearth of articles on just about anything about college admissions on the site.  It even has a blog search for the specific topic you have in mind. Do a search for “Harvard admissions” and the site will return with a list of about 20 articles over 3 pages with those or related keywords. Not bad for anyone wanting to learn about college admissions in the country and experiencing them in a number of colleges and universities. 

The downside here is that The Choice is looking quite newsy and could be a real put-off to the younger generation of high school graduated who are supposed to be the target readers of the blog.  The site is a collection of scholarly articles by middle-aged professionals who prefer to talk like a professor before a bunch of ignoramuses. Nothing to complain about in terms of content, but it is dubious if the site is reaching its intended readers who are fresh out of high school in their mid teens.  While the articles are easy to read and understand, The Choice needs to brush up on how it can attract young people to read it.


It’s great to read the education section of a formal and highly respected broadsheet like the New York Times.  You get concise, accurate and easy to read articles in any of its section such as business, science, health, sports, opinion, etc.  And the education section is no less as dignified.  That’s the word.  The articles in The Choice blog under the Education section are no less as scholarly a journalistic product as most other articles and columns you expect from one of the most respected broadsheet in the country.  They carry the same NYT standard for dignified press that is just right for professionals and businesses to read, but not for teeny boppers.  It’s almost like asking your teenager to take the Benz stretched limo everyday to school.  Any takers? 

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