Tuesday, October 23, 2007

AP Teacher sex series too much and too late

The AP finally did a series on sex abuse by teachers in public schools. A real scandal - and I don't mean the teachers. That it took this long for the world's largest gatherer and distributor of news to put the problem on its agenda is a disgrace to journalism. The handling of the teacher abuse and the Catholic priest scandal is gatekeeping journalism at its worst. Once the church scandal was news, all institutions were fair targets.
There were plenty of alarm bells. In 1998, Education Week did a fine series called "Passing the Trash" that dealt with moving teachers suspected of abuse from school to school. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did an outstanding series in 1999. There were many reporters doing their job, but, mainly, the stories weren't picked up by the national press. As soon as I retired in 2000 I did an expose about the double standard coverage for Catholic San Francisco, followed by an article for America magazine and another for New Oxford Review in 2005. "Philip's Code: No News is Good News - to a Killer" has a few pages about the contrasting coverage.
I doubt such unfairness could happen today. The mainstream media was the only game in town when the clergy scandal first hit in the 1980s with a seres in the San Jose Mercury News. Now there are lots of watchdogs watching the watchdog.
The AP series is all over the Internet, including sfgate, the San Francisco Chronicle's 'net version. My sources tell me that AP copy feeds on to sfgate automatically. As of today, however, the series hasn't been in the print Chron, and, I don't think, the Merc. Embarrassed? They should be.
And, please, will a reporter with some guts ask SNAP when it will start suing over school abuse. Does the group's alphabet not go to T, as in teacher?
Follow the money!!!!

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