Saturday, May 16, 2009

North Simcoe ARC update #2

This is a few days old but still caught the eye, after the night of presentations at the Simcoe County District School Board on its north-Simcoe high school review. The communities came out in force and presented their piece to the trustees.
It brings up a good question of how to cover these processes from a media standpoint. As readers here will know, I advocate for better coverage of accommodation review committees, their meetings, their recommendations and the overall review process. Coverage that puts policy and fact at the forefront with an aim for rational coverage of the issues at play that doesn't get distracted by NIMBYism or the passionate responses a school-closure threat ultimately evokes. Coverage that makes up for the boards' and ministry's lacking effort to explain how the review process actually works.
But when it comes to a night like this, there's not much a reporter can do other than relay the event as it happened. If the evening turns into a love-in for the communities at stake, is it fair reporting to counter the opinions presented with information from earlier in the review process? Or is it just best to replay the events as they occurred, and leave the rebuttals (if any) for later?
Often this is further clouded when local media get involved in the save-the-school efforts-- I had experience with staff (not the reporter) at a sister paper being heavily involved in save-the-school efforts, making the paper a de-facto school supporter and creating no opportunity for the reporter to report on anything she felt would go against the party line.


Anonymous said...

If we are looking for "just the facts" it might just bore readers to death without some of that community passion.

Seems to me that on the one hand we have the MOE setting up these ARCs and reviews because of declining enrolments and cost savings.

On the other hand the same MOE wants communities to save their schools and use them as cultural, recreational and educational hubs.

Seems to me that the MOE is confusing matters.

I have to wonder why the government is ramping up the number of well-paid bureaucrats, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, to educate those declining numbers of students?

Has the MOE had a forensic audit and done one of each and every board in the province? How do we know we can't find more savings by cutting out those folks who never see the inside of a classroom?

Media has a responsibility to ask those hard questions that parents may miss. Good education reporters shouldn't worry about who they offend just as long as the truth is told.