Edublog Action

Eduwonkette has made a move over to Ed Week. On one hand it’s a good move for them, she’s prolific. But now the education press can wrestle with one of the dilemmas debated elsewhere in the journo world: Anonymous writing. It’s different than anonymous sourcing and I have no idea where the line should be drawn here and won’t out Eduwonkette. But, when she, for instance, goes after Joel Klein’s policies, does Ed Week have an obligation to put a name on that? Paging Richard Colvin, he’ll know! Anyway, in the meantime discuss…

27 Replies to “Edublog Action”

  1. The content matters far more than the name attached to it – it’s that simple.

  2. Ed Week‘s website states, “The opinions expressed in eduwonkette are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.” And eduwonkette is not an employee of Ed Week. So why would Ed Week have an obligation to put a name on anything she might blog about? (Disclosure: I’m an anonymous blogger too!)

  3. Anonymous at 6:03: If you’re reading eduwonk, there probably is a reason you would care what Eduwonkette writes about…

  4. Hi, Anonymous 6:03 back again.

    I read Eduwonk because I know who he is. He says who is in a link from the blog. He’s got some credentials, experience, knowledge. I also know something about his political leanings, so I can better understand his positions on issues.

    Eduwonkette is a ghostly nobody. So why should I care what she says? She might a bigwig in the NEA, or a PTO president in Kentucky, or some political flunky. Who knows? Who cares? She’d have my attention if she was upfront about who she is.

  5. The fact that Anonymous 6:03–and perhaps Eduwonk–needs to know the wonkette’s identity to take her ideas seriously speaks volumes. (The irony of Anonymous 6:03 posting angrily about this as “Anonymous” is also not lost on me).

    As Matthew K Tabor put it, it’s the substance of her posts that matters–nothing more, nothing less. Any casual eduwonkette reader recognizes her knowledge of social science and education policy runs deep. How a bio or “credential” affects this is unclear to me.

    (I would think it is also obvious to any reader she’s no “bigwig in the NEA” or “political flunky” – and even if she were, I’m not sure how this would matter.)

    Personally, I’ll be confident in our system of education when our citizens can evaluate ideas and policy based on substance and evidence rather than politics and spin.

  6. Ummm, spin? This is 6:03 again. You mean a headline that says Golden Globe Toss Up: Ellen Page v. Caroline Hoxby? isn’t spin?

    And another thing: she apparently hasn’t watched the video she links to because Hoxby is very careful to say there is no causal relationship between programmatic differences (including time spent in school) and student outcomes. But Eduwonkette, in her zeal to spin, makes that link in her post.

    PS. I am as much of an expert as Eduwonkette.

  7. Fair enough, 6:03. Though it’s not clear Eduwonkette intended that much to be read into her post. As I read it, her Ellen Page v. Hoxby post uses the Golden Globes (a current event, if now a non-event) as a tongue-in-cheek way to frame a new video she found of Caroline Hoxby discussing charter schools.

    There’s no obvious link between Ellen Page, Caroline Hoxby, and the Golden Globes – and that’s the point. Many of her posts have this kind of humor, which in my view makes her a lot more fun to read.

  8. Anonymous 6:03 – Please post your name and credentials so we can judge your expert status for ourselves. Thank you.

  9. It is interesting to see one blogger attacking another. Can’t we just all get along?

    Can’t boys play well with the girls, or is the old big boy looking over his shoulder, wondering who that brazen hussie is?

  10. Its obvious eduwonkette is not working for the UFT or the AFT nor for the NYC DOE or any other DOE, or for the government or for a think tank on education. Indeed, it is self-evident. Why?


    Do you know anyone at any of those places that has one?

  11. 4:03 Was he attacking her? His question seems like a fair one for Education Week. Newspapers usually do not use anonymous people do they?

  12. Newspaper’s don’t use anonymous sources,

    WMD exists in Iraq,

    The US was greeted with flowers,

    The whole country supports NCLB, which has raised educational levels throughout the United States

    Joel Klein didn’t come up with an A to F grading system,

    The DOE didn’t give Stuyvesant an A, when the formula said it should get a B,

    Hillary Clinton is going to win in New Hampshire.

  13. Well,I was in the middle of dinner but then I got Eduwonk’s page. So, though my steak is getting cold, I’ll say this:
    1. Anonymous sourcing in newspapers is sometimes necessary to get controversial ideas out. But it should be used only when necessary, because it undermines credibility. The NY Times came under scrutiny for its use of anonymous sources so you’ll see now that writers explain why the source has standing on that issue and also why their identity is being withheld. Anonymity reduces credibility. 2. Bloggers need a distinctive perspective. Eduwonkette seems to have one and that’s good. She claims formal expertise to justify her perspective. The only way to evaluate her opinions is to know if she does indeed have that expertise. Remaining anonymous makes her just another one in the crowd. (But one with a sense of humor!) 3. All print news organizations are having problems remaining relevant and profitable and they’re trying to find ways to stand out. Strong voices help. But I am surprised that a respected news organization would allow itself to be associated with an anonymous blogger. When journalists from other news organizations have posted comments anonymously on others’ blogs they’ve been disciplined or dismissed.

    Ok, back to dinner….

    Richard Colvin

  14. I know this stuff is complicated, but I’m puzzled by Richard Colvin’s response. (But he’s a good sport for responding at all.) Is there some pretense that bloggers are working journalists? Richard’s reference to “journalists from other news organizations” being disciplined for posting anonymously seems to apply to journalists who are actually working for a news organization. But as best as I can tell, eduwonkette is not working for Ed Week. (I have no idea what kind of arrangement they have, but it doesn’t appear to be employer-employee.)
    And as for the claim that the only way to evaluate eduwonkette’s opinions is to know if she has formal expertise, that seems silly. She presents data and cites research written by respected scholars. Aren’t those a sufficient basis for evaluating her opinions? Why is her identity relevant to that evaluation?

  15. Are bloggers journalists? That’s the right question, Anonymous. Some are. Some aren’t. They are a new species. So, there is no established practice. (And, because of the no-barriers-to-participation nature of the thing, there never will be.) Still, conventional journalistic practice is one standard to consider. It seems to me Eduwonkette is claiming expertise to give greater weight to her opinions. Is it warranted? You’re right, her opinions stand or fall on their merits. But still the anonymity raises questions. First one is, why? At the very least, she ought to say why she’s cloaked. Do her opinions serve a real world agenda? Let’s imagine that a high official in the Obama campaign were blogging anonymously about politics. Opinions were well supported, knowledgeable, insightful, not openly biased. Then, let’s say the identity of that staffer were revealed. Readers would feel betrayed.

  16. Hi Richard,
    It seems to me your beef is with Ed Week more so than eduwonkette. She’s doing exactly the same thing she was doing before the Ed Week hosting, when her blog was just one of the many anonymous blogs out there that one can either choose to read or ignore. On the other hand, I can see why you might like some assurance from Ed Week that they had done whatever due diligence is necessary to ensure that eduwonkette is not tied to some “real world agenda” that is sufficiently partisan to call her ojectivity into question. And perhaps also an explanation about why they believe hosting an anonymous blogger is appropriate.

  17. Dear Anon. (Mind if I call you Anon.?)

    1. I have no beef with anyone, including Ed Week.
    2. Eduwonkette has an absolute right and duty to release the inner blogger and gain whatever audience share she can. It’s a brutal world out there.
    3. As I said above, there is no standard or hard and fast rules. This is a new world. The rules in the print world may not apply. I concede that.
    4. My point was that I’d be a lot more likely to read her if I knew who she was. I value the opinions of my friends, especially on topics they know something about. Same with friendly bloggers.

  18. Shouldn’t we be reiventing discourceIt will take a while to find out what the new rules should be.

    But Richard Colvin, you shouldn’t eat steak.

    John Thompson

  19. Edweek is pretty careful to distance itself from Eduwonkette and makes no claims about her expertise. Perhaps there are hosting her site in order to have a humorous, controversial writer to help drive page views. And they really don’t care if she has expertise or not.

  20. The Chronicle of Higher Education uses anonymous authors all of the time in their sections on careers. Primary Colors was written by Joe Klein as anonymous. There are many reasons to be anonymous. One does not know, who an anonymous writer is, but it could be to protect her, her sources, her institution, etc.

  21. True. But the Chronicle identifies the anonymous author broadly, ie. a first-year professor seeking tenure, which explains the need for anonymity.

    As for Joe Klein, read the book. It’s obvious.

    As for Eduwonkette, I have no idea why the need for anonymity.

    As for me, I am seeking tenure too.

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