Friday, June 19, 2015

No More Russo!

District 299 No Longer - Did Anyone Notice?
By Jim Vail

Alexander Russo, founder of District299
Now and then I like to look around to see what is happening in different media concerning the local education beat.

I always check in every week to read Substance News. George Schmidt does an excellent job covering the Chicago Board of Education and the privatization craziness coming out. His website is a wealth of local and national education information. 

For some reason I continue to check into Michael Klonsky once a week - but his blog is merely a blog, where he rehashes and comments on local or national education news. He is a social democrat who focuses on the city's political machinery.

The best reporting on education news comes from the two big dailies Sun Times and Tribune, and Catalyst-Chicago. 

But the education news blog District 299 that had been around for some time and would run some of my stories as well as Substance suddenly is no longer.

Alexander Russo, the founder who Substance would call out from time to time because of his focus on corporate media and the bias from the top, called it quits last month.

His blog was hosted by Catalyst and the Chicago Tribune. While he once generated intense discussions on crazy principals and union politics, his blog eventually faded with time (he was running it from Brooklyn), and the corporate media have no interest in a forum that does not make them money, or at least generate excitement.

I was never a big fan of District299. It did run some of my stories and I did use comments on interesting topics to help report my stories. I also enjoyed Substance editor Schmidt taking shots at Russo, who certainly deserved it at times. In fact, I told George back then in 2005 when District299 was first created and he would comment a lot on the site, to create his own online version of Substance News - it was still a tabloid format newspaper back then.

So Substance continues. Second City Teachers continues. And the two dailies continue to report. And the Chicago Teachers Union features its own blog and facebook page.

But District299 is no longer. The Internet continues to churn in today's world of ever changing online media.

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