The Future: Without a Bachelor’s Degree

I have a new piece up at NBC News about employers who are starting to base more of their hiring on skills rather than whether an applicant has a bachelor’s degree. For a Hechinger Report series on the middle class, I spoke to a few workers without four-year degrees who’d gotten training in specific skills in order to find work in a particular industry for a decent wage.

One person I didn’t have room to include in the story was Sonia Dumoulin. But she represents the potential future of people who find their way into middle skill jobs without a bachelor’s degree.


May 6, 2019 at 10:40 am Leave a comment

Transcript of talk from Lines Between Us event


I’m Lawrence Lanahan – senior producer for MD Morning and the project leader for The Lines Between Us. Thanks for coming. (more…)

October 4, 2018 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Mondawmin in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries

While researching James Rouse for a project I’m working on, I came across a remarkable fact about Mondawmin and one of Baltimore’s most famous companies… (more…)

August 30, 2017 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

Questions for David French on the travel ban

Last week at National Review, David French tried to separate “fact from hysteria” on President Trump’s executive order on immigration. I won’t pretend to be an expert on immigration or executive orders, but his piece prompted me to give the executive order a couple close reads. Below is a reaction to French, plus a few things I noticed about the order that I haven’t seen much press about, including a provision that gives states more discretion on the resettlement of refugees. Again, I’m not claiming expertise, so my questions are not rhetorical. (more…)

February 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

Sharing a Sound and Vision

Don’t remember David Bowie as a “chameleon.” Remember him as a sympathetic and generous artist.

Iggy Pop covers a song David Bowie has yet to release.


January 12, 2016 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

Where are the adults?

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 1.17.52 PM

An “adult” confronts a protestor at the University of Missouri. [YouTube/Mark Schierbecker]

Yesterday, Tim Tai, a University of Missouri student and photographer on assignment from, had a heated confrontation on campus with a group of student protestors [VIDEO]. The protestors wanted the media gone. Tai said the First Amendment gave him the same right to be there. Students shouted at him and eventually walked en masse into him, pushing him away.

One adult, reportedly a campus employee, got in Tai’s face, heckled him, and physically pushed him. Afterward, a professor tried to grab the phone of the person filming the ordeal and asked students to send some “muscle” to remove him.

This was a great learning opportunity for the students, both the photographer and the protestors. The adults on the scene squandered that opportunity in the worst way. (more…)

November 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

These Reporters…

This recent tweet reminded me of a sort of reductio ad absurdum attempt at satire I wrote back in 2007. Could I take the New York Times’ “this reporter” trope into a wormhole from which it was impossible to emerge? I just dug it up. Enjoy:

There were, not counting Mr. Montero, 60, and his wife, Linda, both tending bar, exactly three people there who were not in the Royal Navy, including this reporter, his old roommate Dave from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and an older woman playing scratch-off lottery games and trying to ignore more than 50 increasingly loud British sailors.

– “The Fleet’s In: In the Harbor, and the Bar,” Michael Wilson, The New York Times, July 11, 2007

At a recent happy hour attended by several reporters from the New York Times, a reporter approached this reporter.

“Is that who I think it is?” said that reporter to this reporter, nodding her head toward a reporter over in the corner.

“I think so,” replied this reporter to that reporter about the reporter over in the corner. (more…)

April 20, 2015 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

On Longevity

Here’s a fun thing to do the day before you turn 40: go to this Social Security website, punch in your birthdate, and see the average number of years someone your age has left. (It’s 42.1 more for me, if you must know. Not quite “mid-life.”)

These landmarks trigger an involuntary plunge into reverie and reflection. It’s times like these I remember that—as is probably the case with most people—I wouldn’t have made it this far without a couple strokes of luck. I remember sitting helpless in a passenger seat as a teenager while a friend hit 75 miles an hour down a hill, went up on two wheels on a curve and into the left side of the road, and brought the car back down with a swerve, missing an oncoming vehicle by mere feet. (more…)

February 27, 2015 at 9:22 pm Leave a comment

How Many American Schoolkids are Poor? Way Fewer Than the Washington Post Told You.

It was one of those “now, wait a minute” kind of headlines: “Majority of U.S. Public School Students are in Poverty.”

The January 16 Washington Post article by Lyndsey Layton brought needed attention to a remarkable bit of education data: for the first time ever, over half of American public school students are now receiving free or reduced-price lunch.

“The shift to a majority-poor student population,” Layton writes, “means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.”

The problem is, it’s not true that most American public school children are poor. Free and reduced-price lunch eligibility is a frequently-used proxy for poverty in schools. But it’s not poverty. (more…)

February 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

GALLERY: Easter Eggs at Kenilworth’s Christmas Train Garden

Merry Christmas!

A Christmas miniature train garden at a suburban mall is the last place I expected to get a mesmerizing dose of social realism. But when my wife and I took our two-year-old to see the trains at The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, we found (little) people being carried away on stretchers from a car accident and a house fire, a funeral (surreally juxtaposed with a backyard pool scene), someone getting arrested at a Dunkin Donuts while behind him a man slept on a bench with a newspaper for a blanket, and a man with a big backpack standing by the tracks waiting to jump a train. (more…)

December 30, 2014 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

- A much prettier website with my journalistic highlights is at
- Disappearing Ink released its first album, "There Is No Time and Nothing's Been," in December 2014. It's available on iTunes.
- After almost five years at WYPR, I'm back to freelancing. Editors can reach me at
- The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life includes my chapter "New Possibilities and Old Limitations of Political Art in The Wire."
- You can still buy my 2004 self-titled EP.