Mother Jones Botches Noguera Interview Headline

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Screengrab of recent Mother Jones story about the new federal education law.

Looking at the headline for this recent Mother Jones story — “There’s a Way to Help Inner-City Schools. Obama’s New Education Law Isn’t It.” — a reader might be understandably confused about whose view was being expressed.  

Is it an in-house editorial position, or an oped contributor’s view of the world? Is it a conclusion reached by   reporter, Kristina Rizga, who bylines the piece? 

No, of course not.  It turns out that the piece is a Q and A with UCLA professor Pedro Noguera, and that the view expressed in the headline is Noguera’s.

There are a number of ways for news outlets to convey that a headline represents an outside view, report finding, or claim.

Some suggestions I floated on Twitter include “New Obama Education Law Isn’t Way To Help Poor Kids, Says UCLA Expert” or “Noguera: New Obama Education Law Isn’t …”

You get the idea. 

Mother Jones recently passed along a viral story about school lunches that turned out to have been misleading. A 2012 feature story about a homegrown school turnaround (turned into a book) was misleading, I thought. 

However, reporter Rizga and blogger Kevin Drum and others regularly turn out thought-provoking entries like Is it Time to Replace the Cult of Finland With the Cult of New Jersey? and Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers?. During 2012 and 2013, Maggie Severns (of Politico fame) penned a bunch of education stories for Mother Jones.

I recently included one of Rizga’s pieces in my weekly roundup of education stories that seemed particularly strong. 

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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.