Monday, October 26, 2009

Did I mention I do windows?

In responses to our survey of people who have used the public editor resource, several mentioned they would like a clearer explanation of what I can help with.

Some background: EWA created the public editor position in 2008 in response to complaints from education journalists that they are thrown into the beat with little background, their editors don’t have as much time for them as they used to, and they are asked to take on more and more work. (More with less!) The position is funded by several foundations: Lumina, Spencer, Carnegie, Joyce, Pew.

What do I do? I suggest sources and research, talk over ideas and help reporters put stories into national context. I’ve advised reporters on how to deal with recalcitrant superintendents, or editors. I critique pieces already published or edit ones in progress. If you’re an author, current or aspiring: I’ve helped writers shape proposals, commented on manuscripts and suggested avenues for publicity. I’ve put freelancers in touch with editors. I’ve edited resumes and cover letters.

The service is free; you don’t have to belong to EWA to get my help—though we’d love it if you joined. You can be an experienced education writer or working on your first piece—the only requirement I can think of is that you write, edit or produce education journalism (a term I think of in its broadest sense). You can call or e-mail me anytime, about anything. When I don’t know how to help, I’ll put you in touch with someone who can.

One reporter said in the survey she didn’t want to wear out her welcome. Really, you can’t.

1 comment:

  1. What about advocates using you as a sounding board for our concerns about education journalism? (Needless to say, I've already done so.)

    It's probably a small group who feel the need for such a resource -- but an impassioned one.

    We would vigorously agree that too many education reporters are thrown into the beat with little background -- though some of the most troubling journalism is done by non-education reporters. They're easy pushovers for canny flacks who are deliberately avoiding dealing with journalists who know enough to ask uncomfortably tough questions.

    (Example: A San Francisco Chronicle columnist rewrites a press release fawning over a local chain of charter schools:

    What oh what are those of us who beg for more aggressive coverage of "education reform" to do? Or are we just griping because the coverage doesn't all reflect our personal positions?

    And below, by the way, is a piece of coverage that gets a laurel from those of who want more aggressive coverage. Here David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows how it's done: