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Media: How Reporters Got Sucked Into Value-Added Debacle

image from cjrarchive.org Conventional wisdom is that journalists only care about making the front page and beating the competition, and frankly that's often true. But in the March issue of CJR, J-School prof LynNell Hancock tells the fascinating story of how NYC education reporters struggled to what to do with value-added teacher data that they had requested/were being fed by the Bloomberg administration. "Some were so angry at what looked like a blatant attempt by the city to use reporters in its fight with the UFT that they quietly threatened to quit if their editors insisted on publishing names."  Hancock describes the reluctance and suspicion with which they regarded the value-added data they knew that their editors and many readers would want to see it. She also describes reporters socializing with DOE and UFT counterparts in ways that may trouble some and a 5,000-signature parent petition against the release of the data that went unreported in the news. Hancock is perhaps a bit sympathetic to the journalists, being one herself and having mentored some of those in the story (something that I wish had been disclosed).   She doesn't say who threatened to quit, or why they decided not to, or much about the internal debate between reporters and editors that ultimately led most to decide they would publish the individual data if and when it becomes available.  [Speaking of disclosure, Hancock heads the Spencer fellowship program that I did in 2008.]

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