Here is our response to state Sen. Branden Durst’s guest opinion about Idaho education — and, at least in passing, about Idaho Education News.
As turns out, it’s a good time to get readers caught up on what we’ve been doing, how traffic to the site has increased (even during the summer) and what the future holds. It was co-written by the staff of Idaho Education News: reporter and editor Jennifer Swindell, reporter Clark Corbin and me.
The rebuttal ran in Saturday’s Idaho Statesman. You can read it on their website. Or just scroll down.
Sen. Branden Durst published some disparaging comments about the journalists of Idaho Education News and the product we create every day.
Durst is entitled to his opinion, as is any reader. We are taking our editorial opportunity to tell you about who we are and what we do.
We left comfortable jobs to start an online news product just seven months ago with the mission of covering Idaho education news and creating a platform to discuss issues that affect Idaho’s children and their future.
Idaho Education News was inspired and modeled on Education News Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit website. The Colorado site has seen tremendous readership growth in the past five years. We decided that Idahoans, who are as passionate about education as anyone in the country, would appreciate and support a similar product.
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation agreed to grant fund Idaho Education News and Boise State University agreed to be the fiscal agent. We have been very open about our relationships with the Albertson Foundation and Boise State, and we prominently disclose those relationships on our website.
Thanks to the support of the Albertson Foundation and Boise State, we are able to offer our news for free. In fact, IdahoEdNews.org is one of few news sources in Idaho that remains free and without advertisements, and is the state’s only news source devoted to education.
We know that critical to our success is being a trusted source of professional journalism, which is why our partners and funders, and board members or staff members of these organizations, do not control or attempt to control our editorial content.
Also critical to our success is being present. We hold lawmakers and education leaders responsible for their actions by attending events and asking questions. We were the only media to attend all of the governor’s education task force public hearings and we provided in-depth daily coverage of education issues during the 2013 legislative session. We’ve traveled to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Nampa and Paul.
Our product becomes more popular every day.
In just seven months, visits to IdahoEdNews.org have tripled. Even when school is out, readers rely on us. In July, we have reached new highs in daily and monthly page views.
We started August strong and anticipate that our numbers will continue to grow as school begins and we launch new products, including a data center filled with financial and academic information on schools and districts.
Idaho’s largest newspapers trust our work. The Idaho Statesman, Idaho Press-Tribune, the Twin Falls Times-News and the Spokane Spokesman-Review have published our stories, photos and blogs.
We want to be a trusted education news source and we are committed to making that happen.
We stand behind our coverage of K-12 education in Idaho. We believe our journalism stands on its merits and we look forward to continuing to offer our readers an accurate and thorough reflection of Idaho education.