Vocalo's Feder Vs. ChicagoNow: It's On!


It took media reporter Roger Robert Feder about a week of being back on the beat to take a swipe

at ChicagoNow, whose offerings he derides as a "menagerie of free-lancers and hobbyists."  My reaction?  Finally. You know you've arrived when an old newspaper guy like Feder comes after you.  And it's especially delicious that Feder does so perched at Vocalo.org, which (a) relies on a menagerie of freelancers and hobbyists and (b) makes ChicagoNow look like something of a media giant.  I'm friends and colleagues with several people at Vocalo and WBEZ.  I generally admire what they do.  I get what Feder is talking about.  I just think that maybe he should look around his new surroundings before he gets all high and mighty.  It's a new world out there, Robert, and you're in it. 

Filed under: Media Watch


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  • chicagoist notes that feder probably doesn't know much about either vocalo or chicagonow


  • the reader's whet moser says that maybe feder's being a little hypocritical, too


  • colleague danny boyle gives the back story and then some at his chicagosphere blog


  • To be honest, I consider this blog to be more of a bulletin board than a reputable news organization. By and large, it aggregates news from journalists about Chicago and lets its readers offer commentary and firsthand accounts. These accounts are not fact checked or substantiated and in most cases are anonymous. Additionally, they are frequently made by people with axes to grind against others and threads sometimes devolve to just petty bickering.

    I'm not sure exactly what Vocalo has to offer that is different than this. What I do know is that I would use I would not cite a "fact" gleaned here or at any other blogger's site. Newspapers may fall down on the job occasionally, but by and large they check their sources. They can also be sued (and in the good old days had money available to actually pay out) for libel.

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    No, many main stream journalists do not check their facts for any kind of accuracy. I can't explain why. But that's the way it is. The papers' reporters and editors are falling down on the job daily, not occasionally. This failing has created a hole for formats such as blogs/news aggregators to fill. The whole media scene is still unsatisfying and doesn't meet the public's need to know about education issues and news.

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    File a grievance IF the observations were not true. You have that right. PATs reasons are NOT fictitious since HR gives the principal specific choices to choose from. Principal take teacher evaluation very seriously. However, CPS is NOT supportive of principals in this very important process and at times, actually gets in the way of it. Many wish that Mr. Huberman would take our comments seriously on the teacher evaluation process and the lack of support in-house for it. Principals are the ones that have to implement it.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    PATs reasons are NOT fictitious since HR gives the principal specific choices to choose from.

    The reasons ARE fictitious when they are applied without any connection to what actually happened. Stating that a teacher is being let go based on what was seen in an observation is FICTION when an observation has not been done. I know that I am not alone in having this happen to me.

    With regard to filing a grievance: PAT's are teachers who are new to CPS. I for one was unaware that I would be allowed to file a grievance without going through my field representative from CTU. Many of my calls to the field rep went unanswered. The delegate at my school was no help at all. When I finally did get through to a field rep (not even my own because he NEVER answered my calls), I was told that it would be useless to file a grievance. Furthermore, a grievance asks for reinstatement into a position. Forcing a principal who did not want me there in the first place to take me back would essentially mean walking back in with a target on my back, setting myself up for an eventual E3.

    Fortunately, I found a new position on my own. Plenty of talented people out there are not nearly so fortunate.

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    let's be real... CPS doesn't support CAO's, they are given a template to follow with little resources. Principals are given their marching orders from the CAO"s and the teachers have to eat *hit. If schools are to change, teachers are key. The public should know, since they pay the bills, CPS doesn't really listen to the teachers in the classroom. Duncan and Huberman are afraid to hear what the people who work with the children have to say. Cowards they are! The only hope we have Chicago in saving public education is building strong professional communities in each school. It is at the classroom and school level that needs to be improved. The present system keeps teachers from developing leadership in a meaningful way. Everyone knows that the present 900 hours of instruction is cheating our students. The CAO in my area also said the present 900 hours was crazy!

    To repeat myself, ( Sorry Danny) the Chicago Public Schools needs to localize the best practice of successful school districts and cut the crap. We need to build strong professional communities in each school. CPS is failing its student and teachers big time. If you want to improve schools, we need to change and support professional leadership in a meaningful way.

    United States Is Substantially Behind Other Nations in Providing Teacher Professional Development That Improves Student Learning; Report Identifies Practices that Work


  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Good idea. Instead of referring to this report, please list and describe one (or more) of the first steps needed to create such professional communities. First step in teacher action. First step by principal. First step in board policy. Etc. Let's hear about it here. Localize it to CPS. --- All ears.

  • In reply to cermakRd:

    I do not feel sorry for the CAOs--the regional officers used to have 50 schools each! The CAOs are making a $155,000 salary plus a very nice pension. It is there responsibility to tell Ron what is not working--this is Ron's fault, but principals risk their jobs EVERY day--No sympathy for CAOs. Speak up or your profession is meaningless.

  • I agree completely. The letter from the mom about the two little girls at the gifted school did it for me. Then come to find out the thing is still running and now with an apology that breaks your heart! Alexander, what kind of journalist ARE you?

  • I am tired of the trib saying that principals donot evaluate teachers in CPS. They did not do their homework. How many PATs are NOT kept after the end of the school year? how many trib? how many tenured teachers ARE E-3ed EVERY year? did you get the number? No! Do your hoemowrk before you say that pricnipals are NOT evaluating teachers. How many of your lousey reporters to you fire? None.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    How many PATs are NOT kept after the end of the school year?

    How about how many PAT's are nonrenewed without being evaluated? When it happened to me the first time, I had been observed for a total of less than 10 minutes, no pre or post conference. Second time round, the nonrenewal letter had an attachment stating that it was based on an observation, but the observation never in fact happened. According to the new rules, they are supposed to give a reason for nnonrenewing a PAT. Most reasons I've seen or heard of have been fictitious.

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