What Should WBEZ Have Done?

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I like and respect the folks at Chicago Public Radio but it was hard not to listen to their recent story about increases in alternative assessments (School Gives Special Ed Kids A Different Test, and Scores Soar) and not be reminded of a blog post on this site that covered much the same ground (Not Testing Some Kids Makes Schools Look Better) a few weeks ago.

I didn't get very far trying to address the issue with them at the time (though to be fair I didn't raise the biggest possible stink).  But I'm still wondering:  should WBEZ have credited D299 for being first to reveal that the Calumet City school they profiled was gaming the system (and how it was being done)?  Does it matter whether it was a blog post written by me or a comment written by one of you that motivated them to follow up their original story? Or does this blog forego any right to credit because it uses so much outside content?

Filed under: Media Watch, Site News

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  • Alexander,
    Just to be clear here. We reported this story based on information we received from Rodney Estvan not from your blog and we properly credited him in the piece. We also reached out to the state for the numbers--some of which you later got as well--and we reported the school district

  • Here's another question. Was it ethical of Sally Eisele to publish a private person-to-person email on a website? Perhaps she obtained Alex's permission. If not, I'd watch out giving her quotes or information.

  • hi, sally --

    thanks for your comment. notwithstanding whose turn it was to make the next call i think you may be missing some key information:

    i sent rod and linda a note asking about the calumet city school's increased SPED scores on november 3, three days after linda's first (erroneous) story first ran.

    i won't post linda's email response here but she did not indicate any prior awareness of a possible problem with the school's testing regimen.

    a week later, on the 10th, i posted rod's response about how the school was gaming the system and the state's responses about waivers, etc.

    so unless i'm missing something -- please let me know if that's the case -- the "information we received from Rodney Estvan" you mention likely began with an email rod wrote to me and linda in response to my questions.

    your second story about the calumet city school ran on the 20th of last month, 10 days after my story. it credited rod but ignored my role and my nov. 10 post on the subject.

    it also omitted any acknowledgment of the original november 3 story (which remains -uncorrected- on your site).

    / alexander

  • It seems that Alexander did initiate this story, Rod Estvan provided the vital gist of it and WBEZ made their story in part with his information. The ethics of posting private person to person emails without permission, however, is a moot issue regarding Alexander, who does that without apologies.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I think Alex learned from his last experience with that. Blogging is evolving, as are its standards. I'm surprised that Sally Eisele, the managing editor at WBEZ and presumably a professional journalist who subscribes to her field's ethics, would have done that (publish a clearly personal email).

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    When you learn something, you correct your mistakes. Yes, blogging is evolving. Is Alexander?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Here is what I think. I think that both Alexander and WBEZ did the right thing based on the huge increase in test scores. I think Alexander noticed something interesting in the report relating to the dramatic increase in students with disabilities test scores and asked about it. I think WBEZ looked at what I wrote thought about the implications of it, did some additional research and aired a good story explaining how these scores increased so fast that in part allowed the school to make AYP.

    Really I think this is what bloging is all about and WBEZ is clearly evolving in relation to that reality. As I have said many times Alexander's blog has been increadiably valuable to my own work, as has the Catalyst blog, WBEZ's comment section, and Substance on line. I think this is all for the good.

    Rod Estvan

  • here's another, related situation, in which the LA Times wrote an education story and made a strong effort to explain to readers where the information first surfaced (on the blogs).

    it's not entirely the same situation, of course, but since it's being discussed at the same time i thought i'd add it here for folks to consider:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-greendot2-2009dec02,0,2580031.story

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