National media watchdog group says Detroit Free Press series is only 10% reliable; criticizes paper for engaging in partisan political activity
Lansing, MI – According to a special report released today by The Media Bullpen©, an independent editorial project of the Center for Education Reform, the June “investigative” report by the Detroit Free Press on Michigan’s charter schools left much to be desired in terms of accuracy and journalistic independence.
The Media Bullpen conducted a thorough analysis of the 8-day, 42-article series based on its reliability, objectivity and whether the full context of the issues were presented. They examined the most egregious statements from all articles in the Free Press series regarding achievement, authorizers and accountability, approvals, education service providers, funding and student demographics. The report concludes the Detroit Free Press failed to take “journalistic integrity and impartiality seriously,” and ascertained that only 10% of the content was reliable.
“Being truthful and objective only 10% of the time just isn’t good enough for our children,” said Gary Naeyaert, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Education Project, a non-partisan organization promoting quality choices in public education. “Michigan’s parents and families deserve better than partisan political attacks masquerading as journalism,” he continued.
Through its investigation, The Media Bullpen© also discovered that the Free Press reprinted the series, intentionally omitting any counter editorials from charter school operators, parents, authorizers, and supporters that originally ran over the summer. On September 18, 2014, every legislator in Michigan received the reprint from the Free Press, which happened to be the very same day legislators opposed to charter schools introduced legislation to place a moratorium on these innovative public schools.
“The fact that this series failed to present all sides of the story is troubling enough,” said Kara Kerwin, CER president. “But what’s even more concerning is that a news organization that is supposed to educate the public and lawmakers by presenting fair and balanced information unethically used this so-called ‘investigative’ series to engage in state politics in a really blatant way.”
Click HERE to download Measuring the Reliability of the Detroit Free Press: State of Charter Schools, a special report of The Media Bullpen.
Click here to download this press release in PDF format.