Crowded Field Of Online News Sites Focuses On Education Issues

Joshua P. Starr, an experienced educator and former superintendent, considers himself a dedicated follower of news related to education. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in online news outlets that cover education. These outlets include both new local and national sites that focus solely on education, as well as general-interest sites that have dedicated education beat reporters or include K-12 issues in their content.

Mr. Starr, who made headlines himself in February when his contract as district chief in Montgomery County, Md. was not renewed, regularly checks a variety of news sources. Some of these sources are considered new in the industry, while others are more traditional, and some fall in between. He mentioned Education Post, The Hechinger Report, Politico Morning Education, The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, and Education Week as sources he checks regularly. He also keeps up with other blogs, print publications, and news aggregators like Real Clear Education, which provide links to articles from various sources.

As the CEO of Phi Delta Kappa International, an association that publishes Kappan magazine and conducts the annual PDK/Gallup Poll on education, Mr. Starr believes it is essential for superintendents to stay informed about public education and engage in the current discourse.

The digital disruption of the news industry has presented both financial challenges for traditional news organizations and opportunities for new online outlets. This disruption has had a particularly positive impact on education reporting, according to LynNell Hancock, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She states that there are now more places that produce serious, in-depth education reporting than ever before. Ms. Hancock, who directs the Spencer Fellowship Program for midcareer education journalists and previously covered education for Newsweek, emphasizes the diversity of these new outlets in terms of scope, business models, and funding sources. While some of these outlets are for-profit ventures or part of larger companies, many are nonprofits supported by philanthropies.

In addition to the news sources mentioned by Mr. Starr, there are several other online outlets dedicated to education. Some examples include Chalkbeat, which covers state and local education news in New York, Tennessee, Indiana, and Colorado; LA School Report, which focuses on the Los Angeles district; and IdahoEdNews, a new initiative covering education matters in Idaho. There are also new education-focused sites like Bright, which takes a more feature-oriented approach, and The Seventy Four, co-founded by Campbell Brown, a former NBC News and CNN anchor. The Seventy Four focuses on challenging teacher tenure in New York state and its name refers to the 74 million children under age 18 in the United States. Campbell Brown expressed her desire to delve deeper into education stories when discussing her reading habits.

Aside from these education-specific outlets, there are general news sites that allocate resources to education reporting. Some of these sites, either new or launched in recent years, include ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news site; Vox, specializing in explanatory journalism; and FiveThirtyEight, a data-oriented site that emphasizes numbers and analysis.

Aggregators and Social Media

The way news is consumed is changing, and this is also impacting the popularity of certain media titles. Michael Lubelfeld, the superintendent of a school district in suburban Chicago, is an avid news consumer. He relies on online news-aggregation sites to keep up with the latest news and information. These sites, including those offered by professional groups like AASA, provide daily collections of links to news stories and other content that interests members. Lubelfeld appreciates that aggregators gather the most important information, allowing him to delve deeper into topics if he chooses to do so.

Andrew J. Rotherham, an education consultant and former aide to President Bill Clinton, has also recognized the value of news aggregation. He helped found Real Clear Education, a super-aggregator that selects the top education news and opinion articles, as well as some original content, and publishes it twice a day. The editor of Real Clear Education determines which news outlet has the best story on a given day. Rotherham acknowledges that being featured on aggregation sites is beneficial for media businesses, but he cautions that news consumers tend to seek out stories that align with their own biases.

In contrast to the traditional method of reading news in print or on a desktop computer, many people are now consuming education news on the go using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Internet-based outlets covering education have optimized their content for these devices, indicating a shift in consumer behavior. Rather than actively visiting specific news websites or relying on aggregators, many news consumers are turning to social media to stay informed. Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education, primarily uses Twitter as his source of education news. He finds that his Twitter feed provides him with relevant news articles and information, saving him time and effort.

Overall, there is a growing amount of high-quality journalism about education compared to a decade ago. This trend reflects the changing ways in which news is consumed. Additionally, there is a shift towards more localized and regional coverage, allowing readers to stay informed about education issues that directly affect their communities.

Is More Better?

The proliferation of numerous online education news websites brings forth a question that borders on philosophical: Is more better?

In essence, if there is an increase in quality journalism about schools, which emphasizes successful programs or sheds light on issues, does it result in the improvement of the education system? "When it comes to education, I firmly believe that more is indeed better," stated Ms. Brown from The Seventy Four. "In my perspective, there cannot be enough comprehensive coverage on this subject."

Alexander Russo, a blogger who frequently writes about school policies in This Week in Education and focuses on media coverage of education in The Grade, expressed that the expansion of education journalism is potentially overwhelming some individuals. While policy experts and avid readers may be able to keep up with the constant influx of news, "regular educators and parents do not have the luxury of dedicating their entire day to sifting through an abundance of information," according to Mr. Russo.

Mr. Freedberg from EdSource also highlighted that the recent surge in online education news websites is counterbalanced by the struggles and downsizing of traditional media outlets. He questioned whether there was ever truly adequate coverage of education, even during a supposed "golden age of journalism."


  • kaylarusso

    Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.



Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.

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