Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Facebook News

Blogging, Facebook and News! 
By Jim Vail

We're moving right along in the era of facebook and everything else.

I still like to read the fine print of newspapers, magazines and newsletters.

But I'm a dinosaur. I was born when the first men walked on the moon. I still can't believe it!

Today, we read about the latest scientific discovery, or my friend's trip to upper peninsula Michigan, instantly on facebook.

Just don't post how happy you are while driving and exit this world of facebook and immediately enter heaven, unless it is true nirvana you are looking for.

So what do we think of facebook? What do we teachers think of social media, especially in this age of billionaire driven education reform, believing firmly unions are outdated, and sweatshop labor is in.

Chicago Public School teachers - remember First Class? Remember when we could post all the time about our problems on a portal that connected all 29,000 of us in the city. We were a truly connected online forum of city teachers.

But where do we teachers gather together online today?

There are the activist teachers and delegates who regularly visit the Chicago Teachers Union website - - where articles are posted daily from all around, as well as CTU press releases.

The next best thing I discovered was the CTU facebook page. I realized many people visit it when they posted my latest story on Jan Peczkis, the teacher put on a Do Not Hire CPS list, but was then removed from it after we wrote about him and he spoke out at the Board of Education.

After the CTU posted it on their facebook page, I suddenly had my most widely read story to date, with some commenting about the dreaded do not hire list, and whether or not it still exists.

(Their facebook page boasts 29,000 Likes! Not bad CTU.)

I first wrote about the do not hire list when I was writing regularly for Substance News. CPS was actually putting newly hired teachers on this list due to the simple fact that they were not rehired at two schools, even if they were highly rated.

I tell people I edit and write an education news blog. We journalists do not like to be called bloggers. Bloggers mostly take articles produced elsewhere and comment on them and repost them.

I, on the other hand, am a reporter and I prefer to provide fresh news stories. God knows there are so many out there in the land of CPS.

Second City Teachers popularity is growing, like Substance News did, when it first appeared online jazzed up by its editor's son's fantastic web design abilities, about six or seven years ago.

The key to being widely read on the Internet is providing readers with a regularly updated quality product. If you provide the content, they will come - George and I have discovered.

But let's get back to facebook. I first steered far from this forum when Julian Assange once remarked it is the government's ultimate source on our personal information (and Edward Snowden later proved it!).

But then I decided I needed it to help promote my stories.

I then noticed myself spending a wee bit more time than I would like on facebook. I'm sure many people feel this as I see so many "friends" come and go with a flurry of postings of baby pics, funny cat videos and outlandish stories, followed by a stone cold silence.

Burnout? Exhaustion? Ah, we all need a rest from the rush.

I'm still swirling about in this forum. It especially keeps me connected to my Russian friends who seem to be just right around the corner.

But where can we teachers all truly keep connected in a blogging chit chat forum not owned by our masters? Certainly not district299 blog, that's owned by the conservative anti-union Chicago Tribune. The cops have Secondcitycop - but a lot of silly nonsense permeates it, keeping it rich, raw and ugly.

The teachers truly need to be connected in this day and age. But beware of facebook. Or Google - my web host - for that matter. They all work with Uncle Sam, who does not like unions at all.

Where can we go? Stay tuned online!

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