About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Journalism: But Are All The New Ed-Focused Outlets Really *Helping*?

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFordham's Mike ("Kojak") Petrilli has a new piece online this morning (Online education coverage is on the rise) over at Education Next (which I sometimes write for), taking a look at the "new breed" of education journalism out there over the past year or so.

What's new, or missing, or wrong in the Petrilli piece?

Clearly someone with access to Politico Pro, Petrilli notes that in addition to Morning Education the outlet "pumps out loads of ministories, and at least a handful of meaty ones, almost every day."

Anyone else seen these pieces, and if they're so influential why aren't they getting passed around?

Petrilli describes Chalkbeat as "a geographically based Education Week," which I'm sure will irk both EdWeek and Chalkbeat for different reasons.

The big surprise for me here is the presence of The Daily Caller, which Petrilli says gets tons of pageviews but I never see passed around. Anyone else read it?

What about RealClear Education, where there is a smattering of original writing in addition to great morning and afternoon roundups, or NPR Education, where Drummond et al have been crushing us with so many education stories we can't keep up? 

What else can I add? 

Check out a few more tidbits and some bottom-line observations below the fold.


*Politico recently rebooted with the hiring of Mary Beth Marklein from USA Today to edit the section, replacing Nirvi Shah (who now oversees a bunch of verticals). I've been critical of Politico's education stories, which seem to be picked and slanted in one direction most of the time, but I'm not reading Pro stories so it's a partial and biased view.

*BuzzFeed has both edtech stories and increasingly politics/labor stories too (broke the NEA and AFT 2014 funding record story, far as I could tell). They're not just viral lists any more. In fact, the reporters rarely write them.

*I'll say it again: I miss HuffPost's Joy Resmovits' coverage, which has understandably slacked off during her Spencer Fellowship year.

*Petrilli's numbers for Vox seem low to me, or perhaps I'm just a sucker for Libby Nelson's posts and see them everywhere.

*FiveThirtyEight is supposedly close to hiring a new education-focused reporter, which should create more stories there.

*Other new sites with at least occasional news coverage that are worth noting include AJAM (Al Jazeera America), Vice News (yes, Vice).

*Notably absent from the scene are MSNBC shows other than Morning Joe. Rachel Maddow seems to avoid education stories, and ditto for Chris Hayes and his Sunday replacement. 


Petrilli's bottom line is that "It’s easy to look down one’s nose at the short, “shareable,” and sometimes salacious coverage of some of these upstarts. Then again, some of the best in-depth coverage, and the most knowledgeable writers, call these outlets home, too."

He's right -- but he's also being kind, understandably so given how often he's quoted in many of the outlets whose rise he's describing.

My bottom-line questions are not so much how much content they pump out each day, or how many pageviews or funders they attract -- though I'm obviously jealous of them all -- but how much useful information and insight they add to the conversation. 

In some regards -- Common Core implementation in particular, as Pondiscio points out on Facebook -- Hechinger and others' original reporting showing teachers learning and teaching the new standards has been particularly welcome in recent months during which the rumors and rhetoric have run full speed. 

But not every story calls for that kind of micro-reporting on classrooms, much as some editors and reporters love it, and expectations are high for more. For all that talent and money and time, and in some cases all that reach in terms of audience, we're expecting these outlets to break news, push stories into the forefront, and bird dog advocates, elected officials, and bureaucrats like a city hall or campaign reporter would do. 

Right now, for example, I don't feel like any of the new outlets are doing a particularly strong job covering the 2014 midterms (Torlakson/Tuck, Coakley and the MTA) or, with the exception of ChalkbeatNY, related district drama (LA, Philly, Chicago, NYC), or the looming Clinton/Warren 2016 showdown. 

More, more! I want more. Of a particular kind, that is.

It's obviously not what they or they think their readers want. Otherwise they'd already be doing it.

Related posts: Meet BuzzFeed's New Business-Focused Education ReporterFiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The GatePolitico Brings Up The Rear On StudentsFirst Reboot StoryWhy's Politico So Stingy With Crediting Others?Politico Takes More Hits, Promotes Education Editor 

Image used with permission.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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.