Blogger Alexander Russo informed a number of other writers that he was preparing an article about the coverage of the Opt Out movement for the Columbia Journalism Review, and Russo invited them to comment. Apparently the only one who did was John Merrow of PBS.


Russo wrote an article that was critical of Merrow’s television coverage, which he apparently considered too sympathetic to the Opt Out people and insufficiently willing to acknowledge how many students compliantly took the tests.


Russo believed that reporters were putting too much emphasis on the conflicts, giving too much attention to the protestors:


…so far, at least, much of the media’s coverage of this spring’s Common Core testing rollout has been guilty of over-emphasizing the extent of the conflict, speculating dire consequences based on little information, and over-relying on anecdotes and activists’ claims rather than digging for a broader sampling of verified numbers. The real story—that the rollout of these new, more challenging tests is proceeding surprisingly well—could be getting lost.


Merrow replied succinctly here, explaining how he shaped a story that had 8 minutes on national television.


Anthony Cody summarized the debate here, along with his own views. Cody says that Russo wants to appear to be above the fray, when in fact he is supporting and defending the Common Core testing and criticizing those who pay attention to the protesters. Russo would like to convince reporters that there is nothing worth reporting except the success of the tests. One might have said the same things about civil rights protesters and anti-war protesters in the 1960s and 1970s. Covering the protests didn’t change history; the protesters did.