Thursday, January 28, 2016

Broken News: Hey, Media, Leave Them Heads Alone

ITV are dangling some outrage bait this morning with another story based on a school newsletter. This follows a nearby school last week which hit first the local, then the national papers, and a story about pyjama-wearing parents at a school in the North-East. All 3 stories were based on newsletters for parents, sent home with children.

As a parent, communication with the school is key, in both directions. It would be a real problem if the school didn't feel it could talk honestly with me about our children, and the life of the school. Headteachers around the country will be looking at this latest media bandwagon and wondering if it's still possible to communicate with parents, without their words ending up quoted in the Daily Mail and fed to the social media outrage machine.

Parents with an issue over what a school has said need to take it up with the school, not leak it to the press. Using the media to settle scores undermines the parent-school relationship for everyone. School newsletters are for the school community, they are not press releases. If there is a serious problem, then there are proper channels to go through.

Local media have a responsibility here too - in the short term, you might get a bit more web traffic, but at what cost? Not every attention-grabbing headline needs to be published. It clearly suits ITV to sex the story up: head 'demands' - really? 'apparent bid to boost attendance' - nudge nudge! Conflict generates clicks, harmony doesn't. But web traffic and sales data aren't a reliable moral compass.

And for any complaint, Jesus has some good advice: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 'School and Parent work together' won't make any headlines in your local paper (more's the pity), but then that's not the point is it?

No comments:

Post a Comment