How Newspaper Blogs Are Different (& Better)

Newspaper-run education blogs have been much the topic of conversation this week, with AFT John looking at a post from AJC Patti and trying to figure out whether education beat reporters who blog are "really contributing much to the conversation" and Sara at the Quick and the Ed following up with her own questions and concerns. At nearly the same time, Scott over at Get On The Bus -- another newspaper blog -- broke the news that the NEA was finally planning on starting its own blog sometime this summer.

Though I've been critical of them in the past, the truth is that MSM education blogs will not only be almost certainly bigger than independent or organization-run blogs (after all, newspapers and readers have a long and generally successful relationship and more and more are coming online), but also...better?


In the past, my critiques of newspaper blogs have been that they were too local, not colorful or analytic enough, and didn't seem like a lot of fun to read or to write.

I still wouldn't want to be a traditional beat writer running a blog (which seems like a straightjacket on the objective writing end and a bore on the comment moderating end), but what I learned at the EWA session on blogging with Scott and Patti this past weekend is that newspaper blogs are really about the readers, and commenters -- hundreds of them in some cases on Patti's site -- parents and teachers engaging in a way that otherwise would only be possible at a school or board meeting, or, one at a time, in a letters to the editor.

That's much the same thing that's going more and more over at my Chicago blog, where the real action is in the comments, where long time insiders and others come out and bat ideas around and kvetch. It's not always inspiring, or civil, but it's certainly interesting and informative -- and it's not just one person spouting ideas and notions to the world in a single direction.

A reader commented about this recently: "I LOVE THIS SITE! This is the only place in Chicago that you can speak the truth and get the real deal about what's going on in CPS....Only here can you read the comments and put the puzzles together."

This function -- creating an engaged learning community for front-line teachers and parents and administrators -- may in the end be what blogging is really about.


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