Watchdog Site Hits a Home Run

By: Heidi Kulicke

America’s favorite pastime and education in the media go hand-in-hand on a new website that rates education reporting, baseball style. Did your story score a home run or strike out? Did it at least get you to the bases, or was it more of a pop fly? MediaBullpen.com keeps score of education stories in traditional media outlets throughout the country in a fun, user-friendly format.

The Center for Education Reform, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., created the site to bring accountability to the field of education reporting. It’s a virtual newsroom reporting on education stories in the news using metaphors from the sport of baseball.

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform and publisher of MediaBullpen.com, said the two entities run separately and have a common mission of addressing education issues with the public, but political advocacy is strictly left to CER. “The bullpen is a nonpartisan, issue-specific media watchdog,” Allen said. “Our issue is: Was credible effort made to report the whole story?”

Media Bullpen aims to empower the public to put in context what they see and hear. The problem is not that education is underreported; the larger issue is that all too often, it is misreported. Balance, context, sound data, and an institutional knowledge of the many issues are often missing, Allen said.

CER estimates there are between 300 and 500 stories covering education throughout the country on any given day in traditional media. “Unless the public is engaged in a meaningful dialogue we felt it was impossible to get them to embrace the issues of education,” Allen said. “We were looking for a way to convey to the media what we convey individually to every reporter we talk to.” And the idea of MediaBullpen.com was born.

Media Bullpen strives to be of service to reporters and the public by providing a comprehensive outlook on education issues. “There’s a lot of pressure for reporters to do extensive stories and yet they don’t have the information they need, and not every outlet has a reporter assigned to education. So by putting it together in one place, we felt we could help inform everyone,” Allen said.

The official launch date was Feb. 12. More features will be added in the coming months, including a comment board, search function, archives, and a data center. “We felt strongly the only way to do this was to get in there and start doing it, so we’re learning as we go,” Allen said. The site has two editors and will eventually have 10 reporters.

Numbers are steadily increasing on Facebook and Twitter, and the feedback they’ve received so far has been very positive, Allen said. The site is in phase one and is looking for public input.

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Published: April 22, 2011

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