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HOTSEAT: Elizabeth Green To The Rescue!

Elizabeth_weiss_green_140x140jpg Known for her persistence, her red hair, and her scoops, wunderkind education reporter Elizabeth Green has written for US News, the New York Sun, and now GothamSchools, a three-person online venture focusing on New York City Schools.

On the HotSeat, Green explains why she chose to go from mainstream to online, describes what GothamSchools is all about, regales us with stories of her reportorial exploits, and artfully fends off my obnoxious questioning. 

Click below to get all the details.

What happened to your foot?

EG: It's slightly broken. I wish I could give more details, but I don't understand podiatry.

Who pressures you most to write favorable stories -- Klein or Weingarten?

EG:  Both have formidable political and press operations, but neither one broke my foot. (I tripped while running to catch a train.)

Did you really crash the recent Gates Foundation event in Seattle?

EG:  I wanted to get the story right, rather than rely on dispatches from people inside. So I booked a flight and hoped for the best.

What's the boldest thing you've done to get a story (assuming that's not it)?

EG:  The boldest thing I try to do is to challenge what people in power say if the facts don’t support them – even if they’re people I like and respect. (And even if they publicly scold me for doing it!)

How did you make your choice to go to a new online venture instead of an established/mainstream publication?

EG:  Online is the future, and I want to figure it out.

Who's your main competition?

EG:  Truly, I only wish that there were more reporters to compete with. Newspapers and magazines don't devote enough attention to education, and that's a shame.

Do you still consider yourself a beat reporter or are you more of a columnist now?

EG: I’m still a beat reporter. I just sometimes write in first person now.

How do you, Kelly, and Philissa divide up the work and do you have an office?

EG:  We are a great experiment in democracy. You could also think of us as a blog commune. We run ideas by each other all the time, and our work is stronger for it. And we do have an office! It's in the West Village.

Elizabeth_green What're the differences you're finding between daily or weekly reporting and writing for a blogsite?

EG:  I miss being in a newsroom with other reporters on other beats, and every day I miss the amazing The New York Sun. But there are cool new things about being a blogger. We can experiment with different ways to tell stories (videos, lists, more primary source-sharing). We also have this amazing potential for facilitating community. I've already connected with some fascinating people that I never would have met otherwise.

Why do you think blogs tend to link to mainstream publications who ignore them instead of to each other?

EG:  We're all still figuring out the proper etiquette for hyperlinks and other new Web inventions. But in general I don't think it's true that mainstream publications ignore blogs; if a blog or Web site is well-reported or written by a knowledgeable insider, mainstream reporters will scour it for story ideas and tips.

But what about giving credit for those ideas and tips?

EG:  I get frustrated when papers steal my stories without giving me credit; it’s just not right. So I get your frustration. But I also understand and respect that not every single story can be picked up; there has to be some care taken not to report false information.

Which works better:  pestering, flirting, going on background, or showing up in person?

EG:  Are these mutually exclusive? And I wish you would take flirting off the list. Would you have put it there if I were a man?

Yes, I like to think I would have.  But who knows.  Are you claiming not to do it?

EG: My sources trust that I’ll keep certain things confidential, and they respect that I report about education because I care about it. Flirting would cross a line and would put both me and my source in an awkward position.

What would you say your biggest story has been so far?

EG:  I'm young. I hope the best is yet to come. But so far I'm proud of a story I wrote for U.S. News & World Report about why the business community is interested in education (here) and of a story I wrote for The New York Sun breaking down exactly how much the achievement gap has closed in New York City under Joel Klein and Mayor Bloomberg (here).

Who are your favorite education writers these days?

EG:  I look up to Jay Mathews, Greg Toppo, LynNell Hancock, Josh Benton (former, I know), and of course our local ed press corps. I also enjoyed Paul Tough's work. I hope he keeps covering education.

Once the transition drama is over, is Gotham Schools intended to be locally focused or more nationally focused?

EG:  That depends on whether Joel Klein moves to Washington! The general principle is: We follow the national developments that affect New York, but Gotham is our main priority.

Anything else I should have asked you about but didn’t?  Any other secrets you’d like to reveal?

EG: I think we’ve probably exhausted anyone’s interest in me.


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