On The HotSeat: EdWeek's Jeanne McCann

On this week’s HotSeat, the little-known but extremely important Jeanne McCann, director of new media for EdWeek.org, spreads rumors about secret overseas news bureaus and trained monkeys writing the Daily News each morning, plugs new online live chats, and claims that EdWeek doesn’t need any blogs because it already has them. (Really?)

Click below to find out what's really going on inside the online world of education's newspaper of record.


How many hundreds of staffers and millions of dollars does it take to keep the EdWeek site up and running?

JM: You mean including our overseas bureaus?? Hmm. Speaking broadly: Four online producers, one tech manager, two assistant managing editors, one "director of new media" form the core of the Web team. Add in assorted consultants, a web hosting firm, and of course, the reporters and editors from Education Week and Teacher Magazine, without whom we would not exist. It takes a bit of dough.

When did the online version of the pub start and how big was it then?

JM: Edweek.org went online in 1996. I believe the staff then was one editor, one assistant editor, and a part-time techie. We had one Web server (Sun) and it sat in a back room right underneath an upstairs toliet. I got here in 1998. One of the first things I did was move that server.

What about the Daily News -- who does that, how long has it been going on, and how popular is it?

JM: The Daily News has been with us since the start. A bevy of trained monkeys... No wait, I meant to say, it's all automa...No, wrong again... We produce The Daily News by hand, M-F, which, I believe, accounts for its quality. No automation whatsoever. It takes about four to five hours daily to electronically "clip" the stories that go into the Daily News (generally three people take care of that); then another two hours or so for an editor to pull it together. We start clipping at 8:30 a.m. daily, and publish by noon.

What are some of the newer and / or most popular features of the EPE site?

JM: So many features, so little time... Let's see: We have our irregular-becoming-more-regular weekly online live chats; TalkBack (allowing readers to comment on articles); our new teacher blogs; The Daily News; International News; photo galleries; now-daily report roundups and people column; "the week-in-photos" (starting next week--you read it here first); new e-newsletters; the option to personalize the EdWeek home page; and RSS feeds.

How do you decide what features to add or keep?

JM: Some features are added to allow our readers a voice via different channels; some (like The Daily News) were there from the start, continue to be popular, so we continue to produce them (also, the popularity of The Daily News led to creation of the International News); blogs, oh just because they are so in right now (wait, that was last week, sigh); e-newsletters, as a way to push content to people interested in particularly newsy topics. We feel a real obligation to our readers--especially now--make edweek.org a daily publication; hence the uptick in Web-only content. And RSS because, well, it's pretty much SOP at this point. On deck are major updates to our search engine and our calendar of events

Earlier this year, EPE decided to start charging for complete access to its online content. How has that affected the site and the number of subscriptions?

JM: How much time have you got? The short version: When we made the decision to charge for access, we knew we'd have to change the architecture and structure of the entire site. A good portion of our online readers is teachers and we did not want to lose those users by requiring a subscription in order to see anything on the site. At the same time, we knew we could not continue to give away content that cost a lot to produce. So, one of the first things we did was design the site with different audiences in mind, and make some decisions about which sections we should charge for and which we would keep open. As it stands now, if you register you have access to most of the site, including two Education Week articles per week. If you want to read more than two articles per week, we're asking you to pay for it.

What about blogs? Any plans for EPE to start or maintain them, or to start linking to or reporting what they have to say? If so, why or why not?

JM: Ut-oh, someone hasn't done his homework!! We already have several blogs. Our first was written by a National Teacher of the Year, who went back into the classroom in a high-poverty school a year after her tenure as Teacher of the Year. Right now we have one written by a career-changer teacher, and another by a teacher going after national board certification. Teacher staffers write Blogboard, a roundup of educator blogs. "In Other News" is a roundup of education news from publications we don’t search daily. We've batted around ideas for other blogs. We're open to readers' suggestions.

Photo Sara Evans EdWeek


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