People, Politics & Business

Scoundrels, Educrats, Rogues and Champions


SMW, December 23, 2009 10:04 AM


"Cable & bloggers talking about education?  That's supposed to be reserved for me and the "chosen few"!  Don't you think? Cheers."   -  Dr. D.

The Brookings Institute Spars with Edu-Blogger

The Brookings Institute raised the ire of education blogger and journalist Alexander Russo, about a report released and presented this week offering "creative solutions to improve education reporting and to promote quality public discourse."  See that exchange halfway down this post.

The executive summary of the Brookings report is linked here, which includes this commentary:
"Citizen-initiated journalism such as blogs, YouTube videos, Facebook postings, I-comments, and the like are helpful with breaking news and commentary on events ranging from shootings to flu outbreaks.

 Local blogs can encourage substantive debate on education issues, and school systems have used new technologies to keep parents in closer touch with their children's schools and educational progress.

But none of these can replace regular, systematic and ongoing coverage of education by news outlets".
It is our humble opinion here at The Daily Riff that it is demeaning to responsible citizen journalists in this country when the Brookings Institute concludes that citizen-initiated journalism should essentially be relegated to events "ranging from shootings to flu outbreaks".  Nor do we think traditional news outlets are superior to daily non-traditional media on the reporting of education news and commentary.  In fact, we have often found a greater depth of research, understanding and/or knowledge from these journalists who are committed to the education topic.

We have seen first- hand education reporting from reputable mainstream journalists that is essentially a press release pick-up with a single countering quote, followed by an article the following week with the script pick-up from a speech or conference.  The education beat is often viewed as a stepping stone.

It is not the responsibility of the Brookings Institute to establish  parameters or to dismiss the effectiveness of responsible citizen journalism and alternative media.

 If they truly want "to promote quality public discourse" in education as their recent post "advertised", they may have to "let  go" so the public can have the conversation on their own terms.

Here now is the exchange between Russo and Brookings, with Russo pulling the first punch:

"Perhaps it's the fact that, while I admire Russ Whitehurst and EJ Dionne greatly, I don't think of either of them as particularly expert on the topic of education journalism.  These are not folks who've thought long and hard about this issue, or whose knowledge is particularly deep.

Or maybe it's that the panelists they've gathered for the event include two esteemed former journalists (Richard Colvin and Dale Mezzacappa) whom I would describe as traditional if not downright reactionary in their views on new media such as blogs, plus a think tank guy (Andy Rotherham) who until recently didn't even allow reader comments on his blog. (Still no response, by the way.)Most problematic of all, there's no one currently in a newsroom involved on the panel, nor anyone with a strong background in new media."

Russo continued to say the report was "awkward and obvious and not particularly helpful".

Richard Colvin, Director, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media Teachers College of Columbia University, sent a terse message back to Russo:
"You and I have never spoken or otherwise communicated about my views on blogs or new media or the state of journalism."
To which Russo responded:
"feel free to correct any misapprehensions or outdated impressions i may have developed watching and reading you over the years, richard. i'd be happy to find out you've turned into the jeff jarvis or jay rosen of education media."

Here is the link to the Brookings Institute report titled Invisible: 1.4 Percent Coverage for Education is not Enough.

Here is the link to the Alexander Russo post.

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