pat walters

freelance journalist in memphis

education expert

with one comment

Had dinner with a Commercial Appeal education reporter tonight. I met Dakarai on Facebook (through a group I created as I reported a story for Poynter Online). I learned a ton about the Memphis City Schools.

And I got to thinking: What would happen if the Commercial Appeal tanked, shut its doors, stopped the presses … permanently? (Certain industry analysts, including the guy who runs this, are pretty sure papers of this size will start closing in the next five years … unless they make some drastic changes to they way they do journalism … and business.) If Dakarai chose to stay in Memphis, would he be out of a job?

I don’t think so. Listening to him talk about public education in the city, it occurred to me that as much as he’s a journalist, he’s also a scholar, a student of the school system. I suspect he knows as much about it as any of its administrators (if not more). This might be especially true now, since the superintendent bailed earlier this summer. (I wonder what would happen if Dakarai applied for the job.)

People need the stories he writes. Not just the news, but the context. They need to understand how the schools are succeeding, and how they’re failing … and who is behind each result. Will the newspaper tank? I’m not sure. But I’m willing to bet beat reporters like Dakarai will find a way to pay the bills, whether or not the presses keep running.


Written by patwalters

August 29, 2007 at 9:19 pm

One Response

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  1. I shudder to think of The CA closing its doors, not only because it is the oldest continuously-run business in Memphis, but because of the valuable service it provides to readers.

    But we will indeed have to have a paradigm shift in our thinking to keep operating–and also in order to be relevant to our readers in a Web 2.0 world.

    And if all else fails, I’m counting on you to hire me someday:)


    August 29, 2007 at 10:46 pm

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