Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Page One Tells us About Education #change11

Page One, the documentary about the writing and editorial staff of the New York Times, is streaming on Netflix, and I recommend watching it if you want a glimpse into the future (or present) of education.

Once again, the story is about abundance, as Clay Shirky reminds us early in the film. With so much free journalistic content available online, and the collapse of advertising revenue, newspaper across the country have been biting the dust. The model is no longer sustainable due to threats from outside the traditional institutions.

However, as the highly watchable David Carr keeps reminding us in Page One, that doesn't mean that the traditional institution doesn't have irreducible value. Actual reporting, boots on the ground, critical questions, authentic sources, journalistic standards and discretion....there aren't many (or any) online magazines or do-it-yourself bloggers who can match the New York Times' authority and integrity.

If traditional journalism still means anything, then the Times will find a way to survive. People will realize they want more than amateurism.

This is, I think, a perfect analogy for the world of education. Just because you can make a cheaper model and challenge the role of the traditional institution, doesn't mean you'll make a better model. Educators need to remember what they can do that new competitors can't, and then do it well.


  1. Thanks for the pointer to the documentary: wish it was more easily available here in Belgium...

    There are indeed many parallels between journalism and education and the role of abundance! But I don't think it is so much about a 'cheaper model'...

    Rather, I think it is about a very different model that does raise deep questions about what education and learning are _really_ about and how we can achieve that in better ways than we traditionally could!

  2. I agree. Education shouldn't be made "meaner and leaner" they way newspapers are going. However, the strength of the traditional journalism model (in theory) is that it has rigorous standards and asks important questions, taking no source of knowledge for granted.