As a former award-winning newspaper reporter and editor with a decade of experience at interscholastic, collegiate and professional levels, I understand the pressures journalists face when staring down a deadline. A story falls in our laps just a few hours before deadline. It really must go in the paper the next morning, as we don't want to be old news after the TV anchors have their way with the story. (Not to mention, we often provided the meat to the bones of their stories…)
So what do we do?
We call who we know.
If the story is about schools, we'll call the educators we know, or whose information we can find. That often means a call directly to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, or an administrator at our local school district.
But what if reporters had a list of dozens of Oklahoma classroom educators, grassroots advocates, and administrators from across the state?
While reading Peter Greene's “Power Social Marketing for Teachers” article this morning, I had an epiphany.
Why does the media keep calling Randi Weingarten whenever they need a teacher's persepctive? Because she's the person they know. Why don't teachers appear on talk shows, news broadcasts, or any of the other places where education is discussed? Because the people in power, the people who decide these things, don't know any teachers.
Reading that reminded me of my days in the newsroom. While I worked the city/county government, education, police, and fire beats in several towns, I sat just a desk away from our daily newspaper's sports department. One of the things I noticed is that those reporters always knew exactly who to call when newsworthy events happened. On the collegiate level, media guides informed the reporters of who was in charge and who was on the playing field.
That's one of the things I notice about education reporting today. Reporters know the big-name players, the people in charge of official offices. But where is the list of people who are in the trenches? Where is the list of experts who make a difference in our children's lives every day?
Then I realized: I CAN put together that grassroots/boots in the trenches educators media guide, and distribute it to reporters across the state (and maybe across the country, too!).
Who else would you add?
If you'd like to be a part of this list, please contact me via the form below. Also, share this post with anyone else who you think ought to be on this list of Oklahoma educators who are willing to advocate for the health of our public education system.
NOTE: Deadline for entry is September 5, 2014. Once I receive your information, I will contact you for a photograph that the media can use to illustrate their stories. (You can politely decline this request, if you prefer. No worries.)