I try not to blog about "journalism" every day -- that would be the quickest way to put the last nail in the coffin of the blog. But since there's a lot of concern about the future of journalism specifically right here in the City of Brotherly Love these days. I thought I'd point out an example here in Philadelphia of how good journalism -- and bad journalism -- can make a difference in a very important issue.
I was on the train into work yesterday when my smartphone started buzzing -- Gov. Corbett has abruptly and unexpectedly freed up $45 million to hire back teachers and staffers in the embattled Philadelphia school district, money that he'd seemed to be holding over the head of unionized teachers to force concessions. The first reports implied that, inexplicably, there was no quid pro quo, either. It was a rare piece of good news -- maybe not whoo-hoo, celebrate-good-times-c'mon kind of news, but good news -- for Philadelphia's kids; the money will hire back 400 teachers, counselors, assistant principals, secretaries, and others.
But I didn't write about this yesterday, and here's why: A story (no link) published by a veteran journalist on a newish website that came out a few minutes after Corbett's announcement implied that the whole thing actually was just a power play, that schools Superintendent William Hite had quietly implemented a major labor move, certain to infuriate teachers and inflame the crisis. It took me all day to figure out that the story was almost certainly overhyped -- the change was not nearly as major as the piece implied, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers didn't even seem hugely bent out of shape about it. The news really was simply what it seemed to be: that Corbett had released the money.