Journalism: Mickey Mouse Ideas About Credit
All day every day, education bloggers like me highlight the reporting and writing of the articles written by education reporters, linking and commenting and quoting madly (not to speak of sending readers in very small numbers). But do education reporters ever return the favor? Not as often as they should, given how much they depend on readers' perceptions of credibility. Do they even care about the links they get coming their way? Not as much as you'd think they should. Then again, most mainstream news outlets don't even acknowledge others of their own kind -- as is exhibited again today.
The latest example that comes to mind is this recent AP article about the influence on education policy of the Gates Foundation. The story relies on the news that the foundation was for a time secretly helping 15 states with their RttT applications.
It's a good piece. But it doesn't note that someone else (namely me) was first to dig up and post this small but juicy tidbit, which was until then known only in bits and pieces. I reported it in late July (15 States Getting Extra Help). Edweek's Politics K12 blog confirmed the news a couple of weeks later and expanded on the news last month that Gates was going to help any state that wanted help.
The absence of bloggers in education news wasn't a big deal five years ago, when blogs were so scary and new. And to be fair, there aren't as many education bloggers who break news or offer especially useful commentary as there are in other issue areas. So I'm not suggesting this should be happening all the time.
But ignoring others' work or pretending that education blogs don't exist seems anachronistic so deep as we now are into the reinvention of journalism. And the reasons I still hear from education reporters for not crediting bloggers (I knew that already, it was general knowledge, I don't read blogs, the scoop isn't fresh, other outlets don't credit me so why should I credit you?) seem lawyerly short-sighted.
Then again, mainstream outlets aren't known for acknowledging the existence of others. Today's New York Times article on the growing influence of the Gates Foundation doesn't mention the AP story, either. Do they think we won't notice? Does it help their credibility that they're failing to acknowledge an obvious predecessor?