11/03/2006

Newsletter Review Of The Week: The PEN NewsBlast

The PEN NewsBlast has been around longer than most education newsletters, and is read, at least according to the claims of its editor, Howie Shaffer, more than most. But is the NewsBlast timely, readable, and engaging enough?

The Public Education Network's NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school reform and school fundraising resources. It is a weekly newsletter and published every Friday. This analysis will be based on PEN's October 27th issue.

PEN's NewsBlast generally consists of summaries of many articles about funding, public enagement, and new reform ideas, which are all in line with PEN's mission and the newsletter's named purpose.

While the PEN NewsBlast does not contain any original work as other publications do, there are some unique features: news venues not often on in the edusphere such as a piece from Americans for the Arts, a grants and funding section including pieces like: "National Schools of Character Awards Program," and the "Quotes of the Week" features.

However, the PEN NewsBlast can also be difficult and somewhat tiresome to read, largely because the summaries of the articles are so long. Some may like the summaries, but others might prefer clicking through and reading the articles directly. There also seems to be a lack of "white space" to ease the reader's tired eyes.

The PEN NewsBlast earns a B+ for its unique qualities such as the rare news outlets, grants and funding opportunities and the "quotes of the week," but lacks timeliness, is difficult to read in it's current format (unless you print it out), and lacks original content.

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