This is hardly an important story, but it is certainly illustrative of the failure of much of what passes for journalism these days.
A Billings Gazette story argues that the use of hand sanitizer at Will James Middle School in Billings has reduced the number of student absences. In support of this idea, the article offers two passages, other than the two from 8th graders:
Although it can’t be proved that the gel reduced student sick days, Beam said the hospital decided to continue the partnership for another year.
Fifty gel dispensers were installed around the school in January, and officials think the disinfectant has significantly reduced absenteeism.
"Every winter, we go through a spell where we have two or three weeks of kids getting sick," said Wanda Berube, who tracks attendance for the school. "Since we started advertising the hand sanitizer at lunch, it seems to have conquered it."
Maybe I am just a little simple, but wouldn’t the person who "tracks attendance" at the school be able to tell with almost absolute precision whether or not the gel works? Here’s a crazy idea: compare the January-June without the hand gel to the January-June with it. That might just reveal whether attendance has improved or not.
Maybe this is the kind of journalism that will win the Lee award next year. 🙂