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Brookings: Olde Timey Panel, Olde Timey Report

Punching_old_school There's something "off" about the Brookings report release and panel being held today, though I can't quite put my finger on it.

Or maybe I can. 

Oh yes, now it's coming clearer. 

Right there.  Yep.  That's it.

The "olde timey" thing.

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 [mainstream] 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.

Then there's the report itself, which from what little I've read comes off as awkward and obvious and not particularly helpful. The "No Reader Left Behind" title is awful and lazy. Sure, it's good to know that during the past nine months coverage of education made up just 1.4 percent of national news coverage, and that K12 education dominated what little coverage that got produced. But I for one am not prepared to write off coverage about budget cuts and H1N1, which the report belittles as being unimportant to the core issues of learning.  Gak. 

And at this point I'm also a little bit tired of the "woe is me" moaning and groaning about the sad state of the journalism industry, and surprised and disappointment at the continued diminishment of nontraditional coverage: "None of these [new methods] can replace regular, systematic and ongoing coverage of education by news outlets," states the executive summary. It's as if my Chicago blog District 299 (recently added to the Chicago Tribune's hive of blogs), GothamSchools in New York, or any of several other examples of regular, systematic education coverage don't exist.

Then again, I've only read the first couple of pages of the report, which you can find here:

Improving Media Coverage of Education

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It's worse than that, Alex.

The "regular, systematic and ongoing coverage of education by news outlets" amounts to little more than parroting news releases/press conferences in "news" that incorporate the initial spin of the release. To try to follow what is going on, there is no alternative to the Internet.

Since you mention "old timey." There is some utility in looking back. One of the important unnoticed consequences of NCLB is that it raised the matter of elhi education to a national media level. Pre-NCLB, elhi was strictly local news, largely human interest stories, high school sports, and possibly an annual story on test scores with the Supt announcing that "we're making gains." We haven't come far from that, but it's unlikely we'll regress.

Treating the 1.4% coverage as a status indicator is as lame as the 8 recommendations the report makes. Each recommendation is pie in the sky, with no consideration of the nature of the implementation or the time and cost.

It's ironic that news of the event and the report was published here on the Internet. Betcha the "regular, systematic and ongoing coverage of education by news outlets" will miss the news.

Ed J has come a long way, but it's still early in the game.

Your views may be correct, Alex, but read the report first. This Week in Education is mentioned in it, as are many prominent education blogs.

Hey, I wouldn't call Dale, http://www.thenotebook.org/user/13, a former journalist. Also, note, that's a link to her blog profile on the site (her byline remains on many easily-searchable articles around the site as well). Dale is currently in the Notebook's newsroom, and it, as a publication, is increasingly "new media," http://www.thenotebook.org/blog/091594/notebook-ny-times-magazine, both in terms of content and in terms of being a "new" model for a media org.

I plan on linking to the video of the panel once it's up, and I'd be happy to link to this post as a counterpoint--especially after seeing any adjustments that accurately reflect Dale's current status (and by extension, that of the Notebook).

Glad to see a post about this at all though! I was surprised that Eduwonk didn't have anything and this is the only post I've seen so far today (other than a link from the Journalism Center for Children and Families).

sorry about that, erika --
though funny that it's you not dale who's commented.

i just meant to say that dale wasn't a mainstream newsroom reporter anymore -- ie at a newspaper -- who would be able to talk about the current newsroom situation and possible viable solutions.

i was also saying that she was not to my knowledge a big or early supporter of blogs, new media, etc. perhaps things have changed but even now i don't associate her with blogging, interactivity, crowd-sourcing, or any of the other newy things people have been trying.

that doesn't mean i'm not a big fan of the "new" notebook -- as you know i really like what you're doing with the site.


Alexander,

You and I have never spoken or otherwise communicated about my views on blogs or new media or the state of journalism.

Richard Colvin

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.

Thanks for the clarification. To be fair, Dale was en route from DC yesterday since she was at the event. I do hear Amtrak is working on getting wireless on the non-Acela trains though!

I know you're a fan, just wanted to make sure that people have an accurate picture of Dale and the Notebook. She may not have been an early adopter of blogging, but she's an active blogger now and her posts generate a lot of interest and discussion.

ewa's linda perlstein and former dallas morning news reporter and blogger have some criticisms of the report's lack of depth, which you can find here:

http://www.educatedreporter.com/2009/12/everything-thats-wrong-with-us-part-one.html#comments

the brookings report slams education coverage as being superficial, but apparently doesn't look far beyond the front page in its research.

Colvin? response?

Agreed with Linda -- i mean you get the more "universal" stories in A1, the hugging, teh swine flu -- you get the nitty gritty ed policy stories in other sections....seems like they did a lot of work (or maybe a little) for nothing.

gothamschools' elizabeth green doesn't seem much impressed with the report and wants everyone to get on with supporting efforts like hers (and mine and others, i'd add)

http://gothamschools.org/2009/12/02/a-push-for-education-journalism-to-think-outside-the-k-12-box/

Alexander-
Your post inspired us here @The Daily Riff.
Check out the first "slide" in the slide show with "Dr. D."
Cheers!
www.thedailyriff.com

thanks, dr. d -- great graphics, fun post:

http://www.thedailyriff.com/2009/12/whats-the-media-world-come-to.php

/ alexander

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.