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Digging for our credibility

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In the ongoing discussion on the Obama education speech, one JEA member suggested the press provided too much of a platform for fringe opinions instead of balanced reporting.

While that may be, I’d like to suggest something H. L. Hall always stresses as important: digging.

All too often, in commercial media and in scholastic media we see too much surface reporting and not enough digging for background and perspective. Digging would add substantial answers to the why and the how elements of news.

Frankly, there has been just too little of this type of reporting lately – in commercial and scholastic media.

So, let’s see what scholastic media can show everyone: how to really report the Obama speech story like no one else can.

Let’s see some digging:

• Why would schools back off running the President’s speech?

• Why would parents oppose (or support) their children hearing it?

• Who (if anyone) has used the Internet and other communication to spread lies/truth about the speech’s purpose? How can the audience tell?

• What does this say (if anything) about schools’ willingness to provide a chance for students to ask questions? Has this been an ongoing process? What is the historical perspective?

• What does the furor around this speech say about a school’s willingness to trust its students to think critically? Do school officials even see this as a factor? If not a factor, what drove their decision, one way or another?

• What does a school’s reaction (or a community’s reaction) in this instance say about their willingness to confront challenges from any future viewpoint?

Can scholastic media reporters find sources —  and maybe even answers — for these questions?

You betcha.

If they dig.

Which brings up another point H.L. likes to raise: Credibility. If we – commercial or scholastic media – do not show people we still can dig for answers, verify information and synthesize it into meaningful reporting, we cannot complain when people challenge our credibility.

We have it damaged it ourselves.

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