Lots Of Unknowns Accompany New AP Education Team Announcement

After a long period in which its national education coverage seemed like it was in disarray, AP announced new plans today for A New Multi-Format Team for Education News Coverage.

Will be it any different than the recent past, or previous attempts at revamping the AP education coverage? It’s not entirely clear.

It may be hard to believe, but long ago, AP education reporters and stories used to be everywhere — including at the national level. But national education reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod left in 2008 or so. Libby Quaid left in 2011. Then came Dorie Turner, who shared the national beat out of Atlanta 2012-2103. Then Kim Hefling got poached away to Politico last Spring.

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Described as a “new national beat team, the goal of the new setup is to “to generate more coverage off the news and explore trends affecting students of all ages” using a variety of formats.

Here’s the lineup: 

 “Members of the team include reporters Lisa Leff in San Francisco and Collin Binkley in Boston, who will focus primarily on higher education. Reporters Christine Armario in Los Angeles and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York, are dedicated primarily to K-12 issues. Jennifer C. Kerr, [@jckerr9, pictured] a Washington-based reporter, will focus on federal education policy and its impact on schools, teachers and students.”

The team is going to be led by Connecticut-based Michael Melia and DC-based Carole Feldman.

According to the AP announcement, this is a big new deal:

“The creation of this team signifies the AP’s commitment to this critically important topic,” said Sarah Nordgren, director of U.S. news operations. “We are putting some of our top talent in a position to tell the stories of education for the entire suite of AP customers.”

However, there have been several such reconfigurations in the past, it’s unknown how much if any additional time or resources are going to come with the new plan, and how much of a difference this is going to make remains unclear:

*Kerr seems to have been covering education issues for about a year now, however she’s still listed as a consumer affairs reporter on her MuckRack bio and may still be doing the job with less than a fulltime work schedule.

*Feldman has been editing education since 2011, and it’s not clear what adding Melia will change. 

*Now based in LA, Armario still seems to get pulled off education to cover other topics as much as she’s covering education.

*Mysteriously, there’s no mention in the press release of Donna Gordon-Blankenship, a longtime Seattle-based education reporter.

I’ve got interview requests in to Melia and Feldman and a few others will let you know what if any additional details they provide. So far, nobody seems to want to talk.

Related posts: New Hire Helps Settle Politico’s Education Coverage, Leaves AP’s Uncertain

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.