All’s Fair in a Propaganda War

News comes in today’s Independent that “Academic pay of €113,000-plus far outstrips worldwide average.”  The article then elaborates:

The lowest salary for our professors of €113,000 is also way ahead of the average salary of €79,000 paid to professors in the US — although this figure does not include additional payments for summer teaching and administrative expenses.

The author of this article is the Deputy Political Editor of the Independent.  Given that he is, apparently, a high-ranking professional journalist, one can only marvel at such extraordinarily concise mendaciousness.  This is how Deputy Political Editors earn their keep.

The headline, of course, is entirely misleading.  It gives the impression that the article is talking about the pay of all Irish academics.  Yet the article turns out to be about only the pay of Irish Professors.  It then takes a tone of mock outrage while comparing those Professors’ salaries to those of other “Professors” in other countries, notably the US and Canada.

When is a “Professor” not a Professor?  Had the author even the most cursory acquaintance with the North American higher education system that he’s so keen to compare with our own (for purely disinterested reasons, I’m sure), he would’ve known that the term “Professor” in North America covers (nearly) the entirety of the third-level teaching workforce.  The three grades of “Professor” in the US and Canada–Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor–correspond roughly to the Irish ranks of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Professor.  So when he compares an average salary of €79,000 for “Professors” in the US with the minimum salary of €113,000 for our own “Professors,” he is not comparing like with like.

Never mind that no support is given to the claim that the salaries of Irish academics “far outstrip” the worldwide average: no data is given for the worldwide average.

So the article turns out to amount to this claim: the pay of the highest grade of Irish third-level teachers, on average, outstrips that of the average of all grades in North America.  Wow, I’m scandalised.

The cynic in me says that he probably knew all this and didn’t care.  It’s all good when we’re scoring points against the public service.

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One Response to All’s Fair in a Propaganda War

  1. I wonder why the Irish media seem to be putting a lot of fire into higher education lately. I know there are plenty of fat targets, but no more than usual. It’s not like HE is a credible scapegoat for our current woes (noting that recent ‘shoot the messenger’ article about Morgan Kelly). Or am I just noticing it more? Any theories?

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