District Administration - August 2009 - (Page 52)

Professional oPinion • Terry Abbott Taking Control of Your District’s News Create the kind of news that gets out to the public. It was June 1979 when I became a reporter for my hometown newspaper in alabama. From the time I was a kid following my grandfather around cotton fields and talking politics with the farmers, it was all I had wanted to be. what’s happening now—30 years later—breaks my heart. we are witnessing the slow death of great american newspapers. newsrooms are being slashed as paid readership declines and ad revenues go bust. my hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, recently cut more than 12 percent of its workforce. the Seattle PostIntelligencer only publishes online now. the Rocky Mountain News and the Tucson Citizen have closed. the San Francisco Chronicle is on life support. this is a sad time. we need good newspapers that deliver fair, in-depth news coverage—especially of educational issues. no one should celebrate this decline of the american newspaper. but this dire situation presents both opportunities and challenges for school districts. grams and initiatives, and significant or touching stories from schools. Blast Out News Stories and instead of simply tossing the school board meeting agenda to the media and saying, “here, you figure out what the news is,” school district leaders should blast out individual news stories about proposed school board agenda items days in advance of meetings. administrators should never let the loIt’s a huge mistake to sit cal news media decide how test score information will be announced. they should back and wait to see how announce their districts’ own test scores newspapers cover your story. at news events featuring successful schools with great stories of achievement to tell, and then also face head-on any bad news. another powerful tool is a notification get more positive coverage in the media. we must engage in the Permanent system, such as blackboard’s connect-eD, campaign if there is going to continue to which can be used to transmit important be, as my old boss secretary of education information directly to parents by phone, Rod Paige called it, “a public for public e-mail and text message in moments. education.” If the community—parents, school districts can then download the especially—hear only bad news about audio phone calls, release the phone calls schools from the media, they will walk to the media, and use them to create more away from public schools. and public new stories. I’ve worked with school leaders across schools without public support will die. Launch a Permanent Campaign school district administrators can help america, and they ask me the same quesIt is time for school district administrators to launch what I call the “Permanent increase public support by producing full- tion: “why can’t we get better news covercampaign” for public support. many in blown news releases in news story style age?” my answer is always the same: “Look the school business can no longer depend immediately to the media. school offi- in the mirror. It starts right there.” If you on the local newspaper to deliver straight, cials who have access to television cover- want good media coverage, go get it. the Permanent campaign must befair, complete coverage of districts. many age should push those stories immediately of the papers don’t have the space, the re- to television, where far more people get gin—right here, right now. DA sources and, in some cases, the inclination their news. school district leaders make a huge mistake when they sit back and wait to do it anymore. school districts must create their to see how the newspaper covers the story Terry Abbott is an award-winning reporter own supercharged newsrooms to find and then allow all the other local media and the chairman of Drive West Communicaand deliver compelling, dramatic stories to piggyback on the newspaper story and tions, which represents Blackboard’s ConnectED. He was also the former chief of staff of about success—and failure too. the sea cover it the very same way. the U.S. Department of Education, the press administrators should hold major secretary for the Houston Independent School change occurring in the news business gives school districts more opportunities news conferences and produce news an- District, and the press secretary for the goverto find and tell their own great stories and nouncements on their budgets, new pro- nor of Alabama. 52 August 2009 District Administration

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - August 2009

District Administration - August 2009
Contents
From the Editor
Letters
News Update
Standards & Assessment
Stimulus Monitor
Admin Profile
District Profile
Tell It to the Mayor
Fighting Fraud in Schools
Recovery High Schools
Keeping the Community in the Know
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
Problem Solution
Tech Disruptions
New Products
Product Focus
Professional Opinion

District Administration - August 2009

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