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Media: Hechinger Head Disavows LA Times' Value-Added Decision

Md_horiz (4)The Nieman Lab's writeup of the LA Times' value-added series (aka #latvam) presents the stories as an example of successful new media journalism, emphasizing the intense amount of reader interest (150K uniques, 1.4M pageviews) and the care and concern taken by the paper in its methods, etc.  "All in all, it’s one of those great journalism moments at the intersection of important news and reader interest."  But things get interesting the further you go.  First, Hechinger's Richard Colvin distances himself from the LAT's decision to publish individual names -- the whole story, basically. "Colvin wanted to be clear that he was not involved in the decision to run individual names of teachers on the Times’ site, just in analzying [sic] the testing data."  Then, commenters started tearing the Nieman post apart for being credulous and, well, too easy on the LA Times.  One former LA Times reporter wrote in about the ratings for a school where she volunteers:  "A teacher who himself does not speak English properly, never mind teach it, is ranked as “most effective."  Then Nieman's own Josh Benton jumped in to defend the use of value-added -- though he's a member of the Hechinger advisory board.

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