The Sausage-Making Of Education Journalism

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This cartoon from the latest New Yorker shows a couple of people leaving a building marked SAUSAGE FACTORY TOURS.

The caption: “You were right — I really didn’t want to know how it’s made, because that was incredibly boring.”

One of the main ideas behind this site is to help folks who are not in newsrooms understand how the “sausage-making” of journalism is accomplished: how media coverage about schools is conceived, pitched, reported, written, and edited — and who’s involved in (and left out of) the process. 

Typically, this process isn’t well known to non-journalists. Stories just appear in front of readers, as if by magic, in anticipation of events or in response to them. And to be honest, the process isn’t necessarily as dramatic as the sausage-making that’s involved in politics or legislation or even legal proceedings. But it’s just as complicated and — to all of us who care about what the public thinks about education — just as important to know where these stories come from and how they were assembled. 

Unpacking and describing the sausage-making of education journalism is a way to hold the journalists as accountable as the schools and leaders they hold accountable, with the hope of improving the quality and impact of the coverage. 

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.