KPCC Responds To CJR Story – Plus A Headline Apology

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Remember that CJR piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the current state of education journalism? Well, it wasn’t just the clickbait headline (Why education reporters are missing the grade) that some folks found objectionable. Local public radio station KPCC LA — whose piece was the lead example in the CJR piece — felt like they were being unfairly and misleadingly singled out, and the editors at CJR decided to give them some space to respond at the end of the piece:

“We at KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) agree with your critic that education coverage needs to explore issues in depth and detail. That’s why our supporters have helped us establish a five-person education team including beats producing steady news and enterprise coverage of K-12, early childhood, higher education, and arts education. It’s why we devote special attention to what’s happening in classrooms and among students and their families, especially those in low-income neighborhoods and struggling schools… We’ll pick up on the old joke that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and use the opportunity to invite people to visit our education page and judge us on the scope of our coverage rather than on a single daily news story. Constructive criticism is welcome.”

To be sure, it’s a great thing that KPCC has staffed up to cover education more thoroughly in recent years. But more coverage doesn’t necessarily mean better coverage, and you’ll notice that the station doesn’t even try to defend the story I was using as an example.

However, my understanding is that the education team at KPCC is in flux right now, due to internal shifts that among other things seemed to have moved Annie Gilbertson off the LAUSD beat. I’m hoping that the station will make their coverage of LA schools the envy of everyone else in school year 2015-2016. Go check it out and tell me how you think they’re doing in the months ahead.

About that headline, I don’t know what to say. The headline doesn’t reflect the even-handedness that I meant to bring to the story (which includes quotes from those inside education journalism explaining and defending their work). I should have insisted on seeing it before it was published, and will certainly do so in the future.

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.