It’s been more than 50 years since I first saw the byline “By Larry Lee” in print. Believe it was in the Auburn Plainsman, the school newspaper at Auburn University. I went on to spend more than a decade in journalism before changing career paths. But writing has been in my blood for a very long time.
Because of this, it has been painful to watch the demise of newspapers and the accompanying shortage of reporters who have the time and inclination to dig into stories. And whether they realize it or not, the public is the worse for it. Now we tend to get our “news” in bite size gulps such as a few paragraphs on a web site or a couple of sound bites on something calling itself a TV “news channel.”
Don’t believe me? Then think back a few nights ago to the reality show Fox News claimed was a “debate” among Republican presidential hopefuls. This was little more than an oral rassling match between grown men in suits. No deliberation, no thoughtful discourse of ideas–just a war of sound bites.
And now the Los Angeles Times offers us a glimpse of the future of journalism. The nation’s fourth most widely-read newspaper, that began in 1881, says they will now have an initiative called Education Matters (should I tell them I got there first?) that will cover education throughout the country.
According to the Times,” The project will cover educational issues, including “the latest debate on curriculum or testing” and “how charter schools are changing public education.”
Funding for this effort will come from donations and grants from philanthropic organizations like the Baxter Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation. The problem however, is that several of the organizations funding it have a direct stake in reforms such as firing teachers based on their students’ test scores and replacing public schools with privately run charter schools.
Just another example of why those who believe in public education must be on their toes.