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Gotham Leaning?

December 22, 2008 am31 12:50 am

Gotham Schools is really the source today for NYC school news. When they don’t write it, they link it. The Rise and Shine segment links the stories from all the area papers. It’s become for many of us, a first read. And now there’s a Nightcap, too.

But there’s been shifting. Gotham Schools started as a hybrid blog/ed news source. The blogging aspect seems to have faded out. The posts have become less varied, dominated today by news coverage. And a faux-neutral voice now predominates.

Worse is the lean. Lean? Look, for example, at the sources on this story on the reaction to Duncan’s appointment from early last week. Half the quotes are essentially Bloomberg’s Chancellor (himself, the Learning Project, and the Equity group).

Sift through the latest articles. Blog voices are good for knitting. Gotham School’s relies on more prominent voices. And caters to them. And features them prominently. The editorial choice is self-reinforcing; many articles quote prominent voices, or are actually about them, and Gotham Schools avoids voicing opinions that might affect access. And so the editorial bent, now becoming discernable, matches the voices they speak to. Overall affluent, liberal, but not too liberal, powerful.

I was excited this summer when they started out. I thought there was lots of energy, lots of potential. They were creating a new type of internet space. What has emerged is bigger than I anticipated, and perhaps more valuable. But less interesting. And not really a new type of space at all. It’s a wide-audience daily trade publication, without a print version. Eh. The news digest is still important to read. But I thought there could have been more than a repackaging of standard MSM reporting on a single issue in a new medium. I am disappointed.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2008 am31 3:51 am 3:51 am

    I think there’s a fundamental inconsistency in asserting the importance of blogs and blog voices, on the one hand, and complaining that a specific website/blog is ignoring those voices. Voices like yours, or Vilson’s, are important because they’re independent sources of perspective. As such, no reader NEEDS Gotham Schools to link to them. People’ve been reading you LONG before it existed. By asserting that GS should link to more blogs, you’re downplaying the importance of your own stuff. I don’t care if GS fails to link to other blogs. I’ve got them on my list, anyway.

    Did they goof on the Duncan reactions? Probably, but it’s a relatively venal sin since it was a fast-moving issue (imagine the chat between the GS reporters: “Okay, so Klein isn’t it. What do we do now?” “Write a reaction piece.” “About Klein not being picked. No one’s going to talk about THAT.” “About Duncan.” “But no one here knows him.” “Yeah, but they’ll talk anyway — ignorance hasn’t stopped opinion before.”), and now it’s gone the way of all organic matter.

  2. December 22, 2008 am31 3:56 am 3:56 am

    Points well-taken… to a point.

    When Gotham Schools started out, I thought they were creating a hybrid space, blog, news, best practices, all rolled together.

    The initial two authors had history, one as a best-practice/personal observations middle school science teacher, and one as a school reviewer with some interest in neighborhoods and good teaching.

    And that stuff seems to be fading. I am not complaining that Gotham Schools doesn’t link bloggers (it, in fact, does). I’m complaining 1) that their primary activity is itself non-blogging, and 2) that their voice, to the extent they have one, has fallen into a relatively (for NYC) *moderate place.

    And it’s a mild complaint, since I will continue to read and even comment occasionally. It’s more of a whine. I was hoping for more.

    * By moderate, I mean something bad.

  3. December 23, 2008 am31 4:19 am 4:19 am

    Sherman’s using me in his examples. Love it. Remind me to redo your blog, Sherman. I’d like it to look spiffy to the umpteenth degree. You know where to reach me.

    And as for your comment, JD, I understand. That’s what happens when you try to gain access to a story. It’s hard being fair and liberal all at once. It’s hard being a city blog that’s trying to give the news that everyone else missed without losing a little of the gumption you had. This is ostensible even in MSM, when we look at NY Times, the difference between that and the Washington Post is the editorials, really. Most of the main stories are the same, but the paper’s lean usually comes in the editorials, and the ratio of left to right editorials determines what angle the paper’s coming from. It’s hard working from exactly a right angle.

  4. December 23, 2008 am31 6:43 am 6:43 am


    thanks for ‘getting it.’ As someone who doesn’t place much stock in neutrality (see here or here, for example, or better, here), I am going to be frustrated by lots of what I read.

  5. December 23, 2008 am31 8:48 am 8:48 am

    Jose, Thanks for the offer, and all I’ll say about it is that it sometimes sucks to have no shell access from your ISP. I guess you can say I’ve gone over to the dork side of the force. JD, if you’re mourning the loss of the first voices on GothamSchools, that’s understandable. Things morph, and sometimes that’s a serious loss (look up in bloggers’ dictionary: edspresso, with whom I rarely agreed but always found interesting, until it was taken over by CER). Maybe my perception is shaped by when I began reading GS (probably later than you did).


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