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The Useless Education Media, Chapter #42,783: EdWeek Edition

The education media is, as a whole, ineffective at educating the public. [Yes, there's a little bit of irony there.] Sometimes ed writers don’t know enough about a subject or practice to write a complete story. Sometimes they turn to tabloid-style baiting, partly because it’s easy, partly because it can be entertaining.

The biggest problem? They’re just plain lazy.

It’s a brash blanket statement, but it’s one that coverage of the most recent education blockbuster bears out.

There’s a bit of fatigue related to the Obama-education-speech coverage, so now’s really not the time to go into detail. Having said that, I’ll present a tiny variation on the theme.

EdWeek’s new “District Dossier” blog is right on top of another controversy [!]. Arlington Independent School District [Arlington, TX] chose not to broadcast President Obama’s speech as it happened – they didn’t want to interrupt instructional time/schedules, they said – but is busing fifth graders to Cowboys Stadium for a Super Bowl-related education event. The list of speakers at that event includes former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura.

Fear not! EdWeek’s on the scene!

Well, they’re on the scene – if linking to other news outlets’ stories and failing to present the situation with any degree of relevant detail is “on the scene.” The kicker is that they give you the issue, then make you do all the work to get to the truth.

Lazy.

At the end they ask you to make a judgment based on their useless coverage. They’d like you to spur on that “conversation” web 2.0 wants so desperately – i.e., you comment on their story and they get traffic. Giving you complete news simply isn’t a priority.

Here’s the response I left on the District Dossier site:

“What do you think? Is there a double standard at work or are some people being overly sensitive?”

It’s impossible to tell from such incomplete coverage. In order to answer the question, we’ve got to dredge up the information EdWeek didn’t – or that EdWeek didn’t bother to lay out for us.

EdWeek failed to explain what the Super Bowl ed program is about. By reading this summary, you’d think the event revolved around George W. Bush. Does it? To what extent? What’s on the docket at this event?

Research it yourself, folks – EdWeek’s not interested in telling you.

We want to read facts about the story – real details, not gossipy, incomplete speculation or the illogical rambling of yet another interview subject residing on the fringe.

Give us something to work with and we might be able to answer your question.

The investigative talents of the current ed journalists make Maxwell Smart look like Hercule Poirot. The education sector and the general public are worse off for it.

4 Responses to “The Useless Education Media, Chapter #42,783: EdWeek Edition”

  1. joe says:

    i wonder…
    why do you continue to read something you think is compiled by lazy idiots? I don’t get it.

  2. Joe,

    Given your IP/whois information, you’ve got a handle on why I’d read it all.

    I said they were lazy; I didn’t say they were idiots.

  3. dan says:

    Or…they could just be suffering from massive budget cuts this past year and have opted to simply direct people to relevant stories on some issues rather than rehash the information themselves. But that couldn’t possibly be it, because obviously you’re not lazy and did all the necessary background work before posting this rant, no?

  4. dan,

    Re-hashing/analyzing the information others have already put out makes up about 95% of blog posts, including my own. I know the drill. There’s no need to re-invent the proverbial wheel, but if EdWeek was doing what you said – and doing it effectively – we would have read, for example, a bit more copy’n'paste material explaining what the Super Bowl ed event entailed.

    They aren’t doing it effectively, so we didn’t read that. We had to go find it if we wanted to, were able, had the time, etc.

    Budget cuts don’t necessitate bad reporting. Your suggestion doesn’t apply. Unless you can make a compelling case for how budget cuts and strained resources make an organization unable to synthesize information properly – culling it from other sources who have already put in the effort, then assembling it in a complete, sensible way, which primarily involves cutting and pasting others’ text – then I’ve got to pass on your argument.

    You’re right about assuming I’m not lazy and did necessary background work before posting. And that’s why privately I’ve written about how EdWeek will be under in ~3 years, especially because of their inability to adapt to changes in media both unique to their sector and more generally.

    Man, talk about a budget cut.

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