Uncategorized - by on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 23:41 - 3 Comments

Dallas Morning News

“I’ve learned from my beat reporting that there is a strong grapevine/rumor mill among the district’s 20,000 employees but these folks don’t have a central place to gossip, swap stories and/or compare notes about the latest district project.”

The Beat
: Dallas Independent School District. One of the country’s largest school systems with 20,000 employees and 160,000 students.

The Reporters: Kent Fischer and Tawnell Hobbs, staff writers for Dallas Morning News

Description: Kit Lively, education enterprise editor at the Dallas Morning News writes….

We’re in. The prospect of experimenting with the Internet to broaden
our source base – and having a network of colleagues to tap into for
ideas and help – is exciting.

We plan to build our network around a blog we’re creating to expand
our coverage of the Dallas Independent School District. As one of the
country’s largest school systems, with 20,000 employees, 160,000
students, 220 schools and about a half-million taxpayers, DISD comes
with a ready-made community that is intensely interested in the
district’s workings and, we believe, eager to weigh in on what they see.

The Dallas Morning News Team: (1. Kit Lively, education enterprise editor
(2. Anthony Moor, Deputy Managing Editor/Interactive
(3. Two beat reporters will work on the project – Kent Fischer and Tawnell Hobbs


FROM KENT – I have covered education for nearly
15 years in four states – New Hampshire, Kentucky, Florida and now
Texas – and am currently vice president of the national Education
Writers Association. Since the fall of 2005, I’ve covered the Dallas
city school district for the Dallas Morning News. I’ve learned from my
beat reporting that there is a strong grapevine/rumor mill among the
district’s 20,000 employees but these folks don’t have a central place
to gossip, swap stories and/or compare notes about the latest district
project. I’m hoping to provide that with a district-centric blog with
comments and discussion groups. Kind of like an online office water
cooler for district employees, teachers and parents. I’m also hoping
that parents will tune in to talk about what’s happening in their
schools and can provide an unfiltered conduit for what’s working and
what’s not.

FROM KIT – School systems are like small cities where people
are unusually engaged. A big challenge for reporters is staying on top
of events and issues inside schools as well as within the
administration building and among PTA parents, school board members and
taxpayers. I hope this project – combining a lively blog with multiple
forums for comment – will stimulate conversation with a whole new batch
of sources and deepen our understanding of the district on all levels.
As with any innovative new venture, it’s hard to predict all the
benefits at the outset. But I hope at the very least, we’ll create a
completely new outlet for reaching more people with a wider range of
information. I’ve been a journalist 27 years and have covered education
24 of them. I’m always on the prowl for ways to improve our reporting.

FROM ANTHONY – At The Dallas Morning News we have been
looking for an opportunity to engage our audience in a collaborative
reporting experiment.  Web sites can foster powerful interactive
experiences, and newspaper sites already function as a virtual town
square in some respects.  We want to take the next step by combining
our existing newsgathering expertise with the community we bring
together.  This project provides a framework for developing that idea,
and a support network of fellow journalists to help us see if this
could enhance our reporting overall.  At its best, this could become a
model for more interactive, engaging and complete journalism.  It could
deepen our ties to our community.  At worst, it’s an opportunity to
learn how we can or cannot leverage technology to connect people to
their communities and to what we do as watchdogs for them.

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  • Brad W.

    I’m so happy to hear that the Dallas Morning News is going to be creating an online community geared towards Dallas area schools. My only concern is that I’m currently under the impression that you are only going to limit your stories to DISD coverage. There are so many wonderful schools in the area who are creating amazing accomplishments, and I so hope that you guys will be able to give all of them the exposure that they too deserve. As a resident of Dallas, who works with a local charter school, I want to learn about the BIG picture of area schools, not just the one with the most influence (DISD).

    Am I mistaken with my impression, or will the Dallas Morning News include educational coverage beyond the realm of DISD?

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  • Dave

    Great to see that you’re already writing for the web with headings, shorter paragraphs, etc. I really don’t get how this works, though. It seems like there should be links to the blogs (on the organizations’ sites) that Beat Bloggers are going to use, and that this blog is for discussion about the project and beatblogging…Is that right? Is the social network component the comments on the blogs? In any case, I’m excited at what I’m seeing and looking forward to more.

  • http://www.digidave.org David Cohn

    You are right – this blog is space to discuss the project. The links on the right will change. Right now they go to the specific website or an example of the reporters writing. But eventually, the links will point to wherever the reporter is hosting their social network. These networks don’t exist right now. But they will — soon. Each beat will figure it out for themseleves how they want to do it.

About BeatBlogging.org

BeatBlogging.org was a grant-funded journalism project that studied how journalists used social media and other Web tools to improve beat reporting. It ran for about two years, ending in the fall of 2009.

New content is occasionally produced here by the this project's former editor Patrick Thornton. The site is still up and will remain so because many journalists and professors still use and link to the content. BeatBlogging.org offers a fascinating glimpse into the former stages of journalism and social media. Today it's expected that journalists and journalism organization use social media, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case.

About the Author of this post
David Cohn is the founder of Spot.Us and former editor of BeatBlogging.Org.