Content-wise, week 2 of the big NPR education team’s School Money series didn’t bowl me over. Maybe it was just the sophomore slump. More on that later. 

But there are at least two practices embedded in the series that are worth noting:

Each week has featured a Facebook Live video segment, which is the first time I’ve seen an education news outlet experiment with Facebook’s hot new feature. In the first week, Cory Turner and Acacia Squires talked about the segments and took reader/viewer questions. This week, Turner and Claudio Sanchez bantered and chatted about the latest stories.

They’re radio folks on video, so it’s not scintillating footage — no still images, slides, or clips that I saw — but it shows that the NPR ed team is going where their audience is, trying new things, and engaging with their audience. I can’t figure out how to embed the video but you can click the links above to see the half-hour shows. 

The potential uses of Facebook Live video are enormous for education journalists. Interviews, breaking news, scene-setting moments can all be broadcast directly to an outlet’s Facebook page, and are then archived for later viewing. On first glance, it would seem to compare favorably to Twitter’s Periscope feature and even Snapchat and Vine. 

Online, the NPR education team also is linking out to the local affiliates’ own websites, so that a good chunk of viewership goes to the folks who generated the content. So the big overview story of the week links out. That’s as it should be, but linking out to others is not something that journalists are always good at doing. Here they are, FYI:

Newsworks: The cold realities of education in a poor Pennsylvania school district

WNYC: What Happened When One Of New Jersey’s Poorest School Districts Increased Spending

WFAE: How Preschool Became A Remedy For ‘A Sound Basic Education’

StateImpact IN: Funding Changes Put One English Learning Program In Jeopardy

WGBH: How Massachusetts Schools Went From The Middle Of The Pack To First Place

There’s one thing that’s strange and unfortunate, however, which is that these stories don’t all appear on the NPR School Money series page. There, readers are only shown the overview piece, Claudio Sanchez’s Kentucky segment, the Camden story from WHYY, and Kirk Kirpatrick’s Massachusetts segment. The two other pieces — Indiana and WFAE — aren’t presented. Perhaps there’s a reason, but I’m not clear on what it would be. 

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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