September 14, 2009
While the school system limps toward a new governance structure, we at GothamSchools are shaking things up, too. To mark our first anniversary, we’re adding new staff (have you noticed those shiny new bylines?), excessing old ones, paying the bills in a new way, and changing up our content delivery model. We also plan to throw a party, at which we hope you’ll help us celebrate our continued existence despite the tough times.
Finally — permit one more forced parallel? — this post marks a new era of transparency and reader input, because we are both telling you all about the changes and asking for your help in pulling them off.
Please begin by enjoying our revised design, in which we distinguish between shorter dispatches and full-blown, robustly reported daily news stories. The shorter dispatches are indented and touched off by arrows, as in the post below this one. The stories are in the same maroon-headed format that you’re used to seeing blog posts.
The goal is to hold ourselves to an even higher standard, truth-telling-wise, while still keeping you up to date on the minutiae of school news (who just went wild at a City Council hearing, what article we just read and recommend, a deep thought, a breaking news item). The one unanswered question is what the new, indented dispatches should be called. Our working prospect is “margin notes,” but we want to consider all the possibilities before making that final. Please enter your ideas in the comments or write to email@example.com if it’s too private and/or brilliant to share with the group.
The Community section will also be evolving. We’re keeping our current stable of columnists and adding some new ones. We’ll also be adding a new category of contributor, diarists, who will give firsthand dispatches from inside the school system. Our goal is to have a good mix of parents, teachers, students, and school leaders. We’ll keep publishing “guest perspectives” (what newspapers call op/eds) by submission in the Community section, too. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in any part of the Community.
On the personnel side, Philissa Cramer, a founding staff member, is leaving full-time reporting to go off to New York University, where she is studying the history of education. Elizabeth Green is also changing her role as she heads off to Columbia University to commence the Spencer Fellowship, a program that gives working journalists sabbaticals at the Journalism School and Teachers College. She won’t be too far away from GothamSchools matters; her fellowship project is about the transformation of the city’s public schools under Michael Bloomberg. And both Philissa and Elizabeth will stay involved at GothamSchools part-time. Philissa will edit the community section, Elizabeth will be overall editor, and both will contribute regularly to the new “margin notes,” or whatever we decide to call it. Meanwhile, we’ve brought two energetic reporters on to keep up the full-time newsgathering, Anna Phillips and Maura Walz. Read more about all of us here.
Penultimately, about the money. We’ve been fortunate through this year to be incubated by a generous nonprofit, The Open Planning Project, which covered all our bills through September 1. We’re still tied to TOPP, but we’re also moving to raise money from more sources. A generous donation from one of our earliest contributors, Ken Hirsh, allowed us to stay afloat this fall. We need more help, though, both to keep up the journalism we do now and to improve the work we do in the future.
Want more video? We need cameras! Want more interactive databases? We need to pay web designers. Want more up-to-the-minute coverage? We need USB modems. We’ll be spending part of this year asking for your support in keeping our site going. Even a small donation could really help. E-mail email@example.com if you’re interested or have questions about the new funding model.
Finally, that party: we’ll share more details as we figure them out, but rest assured it will be both a chance to celebrate the community that’s grown up around our site and an opportunity to hit us with your best shots about how we can improve. We see this reorganization as the first step in an evolution in which we will become, at every step, better at digging up and dispatching the school news. Share ideas about the bigger picture or just the party by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.