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Media: SchoolBook To Rely On Crowdsourcing, Require Facebook ID

ScreenHunter_05 Aug. 22 22.50A few more tidbits about SchoolBook I picked up since yesterday: SchoolBook was co-conceived by education editor Jodi Rudoren (whom I've met and freelanced for once or twice) and interactive guru Aron Pilhofer (one of the wonderboys who's supposed to "save" the Times) as both a promising standalone project and also a way to try things out that might spread to other parts of the Times.

Rudoren says that (a) the Times has dedicated three staffers to the site, including beat reporter Anna Phillips, but is otherwise relying on user-generated blog entries, crowsourcing, etc., (b) there were discussions about folding in existing NYC education sites like InsideSchools and GothamSchools but in the end the Times decided to do its own thing and partner with WNYC which has radio shows, event space, a database of sources that seems important or valuable called public insight, and a bunch of new foundation funding, (c) like DealBook, SchoolBook won't require a Times subscription and comments won't be prescreened before being posted unlike on the rest of the Times site, (d) however commenters will be required to register via Facebook and their comments will be searchable but their comments will not appear on their personal walls.

I'm pretty skeptical from my experiences running my Chicago schools blog and watching others try the crowdsourcing thing about readers doing anything more than heavy commenting -- and even more so about readers wanting to give their real names.  What else?  It's a bit of a blow to niche education sites that cover schools to see a mainstream paper like the Times go its own way rather than pick them up (though I'm not sure any other big city paper has the resources or interest in going this route).  And:  If anyone can make this happen, the Times probably can -- based in large part on the intense hunger that parents and teachers have in knowing what's going on citywide and in the school down the block.  There aren't enough "good enough" schools in NYC, public or private, or in many big city districts, and there are lots of struggling ones under pressure from the community or from the DOE.  

Last but not least:  SchoolBook seems like a strange name -- shouldn't it be GradeBook, or NYCSchools?  

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