Blog: The Educated Reporter

Which part of “PUBLIC schools” don’t you understand?

Major-league kudos to Michael Miner at the Chicago Reader, who writes about the culture of fear in that city’s school system that shuts out reporters—and, by virtue, the public. Reporters around the country tell me it has gotten worse for them, nowhere moreso than in districts led by big-shot reformers.There is no justification for filtering every single contact between journalists and educators through PR people, or creating a climate in which nobody feels free to talk about … anything.

Miner writes that the head flack at Chicago schools “spoke of the value of having ‘everybody on the same page.’” Ack. I could rant pretty thoroughly about how creepy and unproductive it is to want everyone in a massive organization to be on the same page—and foray into my loathing of how “being a team player,” which principals say all the time, has come to mean “not questioning anything”—but perhaps today is the day I should start trying to blog shorter.

I’ll just say two things:

1. The “same page” climate means that only the crankiest, most out-there gadflies have the guts to question or criticize, which is not as productive as an honest dialogue among everyone.

2. Reporters should write forthrightly, in the stories themselves or on their blogs, about every roadblock they face in this regard.


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