Reply to the LA School Report

Mr. Petersen,

I am growing really tired of your comments. You rarely add anything constructive to a conversation, and I'm about at the end of the line letting you use our site to bash us time and again.

I've indulged your comments more than any other reader, especially in your efforts to use LA School Report as an extension of whatever campaign you mounted for the school board.

If you want to trash me and LA School Report on your own blog or Twitter account or wherever, that's fine. I don't care. But I am no longer going to abide by your using my website as a repository for your slings and arrows.

And so it has come to this: If you want to offer an opposing argument to a subject, fine. But if your words are framed around accusations of bias or unfairness or belittlement, they will come down, and I will block all further comments from you.

- Michael Janofsky, LA School Report

To give credit where credit is due, the LA School Report (LASR) is the best source of news in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Unfortunately, their coverage is tainted by a subtle but distinct bias for those who would like to privatize our public education system. Their refusal to acknowledge this slant make them the district’s version of Fox News and their claim of being “fair and balanced.”

The candidate profile that the LASR ran for me during the last election provides an example of the way they blur the line between opinion and reporting. This article, which was not labeled as “analysis,” included the accusation that “Petersen was calling out Galatzan for every fault he perceived, on issues great, small and some Galatzan had little to do with” (emphasis mine). Clearly, this was the author’s opinion and did not belong in a legitimate news article, especially without supporting quotes. The following paragraph provided more editorial comment:

Petersen’s first comment on LA School Report, posted nine months ago, was a hyperbolic prologue for the attacks to follow: “The parents of 36,300 LAUSD students are convinced that charter schools can educate their children better than the district run schools. Tamar Galatzan and the rest of the School Board are failing their community. It is time for a change.”  (emphasis mine)

The word “hyperbolic” is one that is more appropriate to the editorial page, especially when no proof of exaggeration has been provided. The number of students on waiting lists for charter schools was a number provided by the LASR. Was the author making the point that these parents wanted to remove their children from district run schools because they wanted an inferior education?

In comparison, the profile of Tamar Galatzan started with the headline “Galatzan a fearless vote on the LA Unified board despite her critics.” Does the LASR really want us to believe that they did not have a favorite in the race? Given this bias, did the editors really expect Bennett Kayser to participate in the process? Who has “deprive[d] the public” when the LASR’s unacknowledged bias leads any Board member not to make themselves available to the site.