So in Springfield, Missouri, according to the News-Leader, school district folks are taping interviews by local reporters and putting out their own reports on those interviews, before the journalists’ stories appear. I am not sure that is how Springfield parents really want their school dollars to be spent, and I am certain that won’t help them understand what is happening with their children’s education. Also, it is obnoxious. Transparency is an ongoing problem with the district, journalists there say, and the primacy officials place on ensuring a “consistent message” creeps me out, though it doesn’t surprise me.
It is my last week as the public editor at EWA, and it is safe to say that the one thing I regret above all is that I have not done enough to bring light to the ways school systems attempt to keep journalists and, more important, citizens in the dark. They are shutting down access to classrooms, saying visits are disruptive. (Teachers and children are used to all sorts of observers coming in and out of schools, and good journalists are not disruptive anyway.) They are banning employees from speaking to the media in any way, shape or form, and prefer they not talk to anyone else, either.
Obviously journalists care about this. Does it bug anyone else?