#TBT: Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” Debuted Six Years Ago

Six years ago this week, the Washington Post launched The Answer Sheet and veteran columnist Jay Mathews welcomed its appearance and touted Valerie Strauss on his own site:

“As many readers discerned years ago, she is smarter, less opinionated and a better reporter than I am. She will add much value to our online effort to connect readers with the latest news and best thinking about what is happening in our schools.”

Less opinionated? I’m not so sure about that.

A couple of years later, when the site had become the powerhouse that we all know it to be presently, Strauss let me interview her for This Week In Education and described a bit about her editorial decisionmaking:

“The “reformers” do not lack for public venues to get across their message. There is no real outlet in the mainstream media for the opposing voice. Hence, the focus of my blog. That said, I don’t always agree with everything I post. That includes things you’ve written for my blog. And I’ll continue to put pieces with which I don’t agree but that I find make sense and are interesting.”

Love her work or hate it, you’ve got to give it up for the accomplishment. She’s got 27,000 followers on Twitter without even appearing to try — 8th largest number among Education Next’s Top 25 for 2015. Her pageviews (including those penned by contributors) top the Washington Post’s most-read list, according to others’ reports.

I’m guessing she’ll be doing this another six years — or at least as long as she wants to.

Related posts: The Washington Post’s Confusing/Unfair “Answer Sheet” Byline SystemThe Washington Post’s Mixed-Up Education Pages.

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Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.