Yesterday, I launched a continuing feature on this page called “Rounding the Globe,” which will be my best effort to keep the Globe’s feet to the fire when it comes to editorial, op eds, and reportage about education policy. I will be looking at issues of accuracy, fairness, objectivity, and access. I plan to examine bias in a number of ways: what facts are being cited, which have been omitted, who is being interviewed and who not, and what stories are being assigned and which ones aren’t. This is all Journalism 101 stuff. But sometimes even a venerable newspaper needs to go back to basics.
Today, I want to note one story that wasn’t assigned in our region’s paper-of-record. I refer of course to Diane Ravitch’s dramatic turnaround on education reform. Ravitch is one of our most eminent education historians. For a while she was also a major policy architect in the Bush’s Department of Education and a key advocate of No Child Left Behind. She has now said good-bye to all that and, in her latest book, has come out against excessive testing, charters, and merit pay. These “reforms” don’t work, she now says.
This is a dramatic event in the national debate over education reform. Did I say, “national debate”? Make that “almost national debate.” Debate is not something that really happens in New England because the Boston Globe has lost its way as a journalistic enterprise. It will come as no surprise that the Globe had not reported on the Ravitch shift. True, in the Sunday paper there was a review of her latest book, but no news coverage. Let’s be candid: this news is very inconvenient to the Globe’s editorial position and is located way south of the paper’s comfort zone.
But perhaps I exaggerate the importance of the story. Is it really newsworthy? Does it merit the attention of top editors of the Globe?
Well, colleagues at the New York Tomes and Washington Post certainly thought it was an important story. Here are the links:
I brought the Post story to the attention of the Globe’s education reporter and to columnist Scott Lehigh. I received no response from the latter, and the following terse reply from the former: “Very interesting.” End of story.
Over the years, Globe staff have assured me there was no connection between the editorial dept. and the news dept. There was no coordination. Apparently, there was only coincidence after coincidence, with a few human lapses thrown in.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. Remember that great 50s hit, “When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie….”? That’s exactly how this story should have hit the Globe. There was no not seeing it. This was a big pizza pie right in the eye. For gosh sakes, the story is in their own parent company’s newspaper!
Boston Globe, J’Accuse!
ps: In the “Who’s Going to Guard the Guardians Dept.,” I want to correct a statement I made yesterday when discussing the consistently skewed Boston Globe news coverage of ed reform. A colleague reminds me that the Globe did have a reporter in the early 2000s, Anand Vaishnav, who really made an attempt to contact critics of official so-called reform. I am told that when he left the Globe to work for the BPS he even called up critics to thank them for their help. Let the record stand corrected. Apologies and thanks to Arnand for his fairness and professionalism.