July 23, 2024

NBC News’ (potential) Free Speech Problem

Like many “progressive” educators, I have been alarmed by the lack of intellectual, pedagogical or ideological diversity represented in NBC Universal’s week-long series of discussions and reporting on how we have “allowed our students to fall behind.” Education Nation could play a vital public service if it truly engaged a diverse group of thinkers in discussions of the complex and important topic of public education.

Instead, it will feature politicians, billionaires and other assorted advocates of charter schools, more standardized testing, Teach-for-America and turning urban schools into obedience academies for “other people’s children.”

Last week, I sent an email to 14 NBC executives, producers and publicists expressing my concern, congratulating them on their commitment and offering to help them add critical voices to their coverage. To date, I have received no response.

Tonight, I found Education Nation on Twitter and Facebook, so I decided to use social media – well, socially. I expressed my concern, shared some articles, including research that contradicts claims made frequently by Joe Scarborough and commented on their inclusion of Diane Ravitch in their programming.

All of a sudden, I was having difficulty posting another link to an article I thought I would share with my new Education Nation “friends” and Facebook was suddenly not working properly.

I wondered:

a) Could this be the fault of my Australian net connection?

b) Could it be because I’m taking allergy medication and am awake at 3 AM instead of sleeping before an 16-hour flight in the morning?

c) Could it be that I’m a digital immigrant incapable of using Facebook?

The answer is d) None of the above

Apparently, Education Nation, a division of NBC News has reported me to Facebook for being annoying and abusive – essentially a spammer. How about them apples?

It’s like taking the pencil and paper away from a person writing a letter-to-the-editor.

If you find this behavior as repugnant and disappointing as I do, why not contact Education Nation at @educationnation on Twitter or here on Facebook and express your concern?

Blocked from posting on Education Nation Facebook wall

In case NBC or their Education Nation producers are interested, here is my bio and CV. You might notice that I too am a journalist, except a little less gullible than the journalism demonstrated in this clip.

7 thoughts on “NBC News’ (potential) Free Speech Problem

  1. This just in – Education Nation says, ” Must have been a mistake. Will look into it. ” If it is a “mistake” and the mistake is corrected, I’ll note that here in the blog.

  2. Hey Gary,
    This was a mistake.
    You should now be able to post.
    Unfortunately after some personal attacks, we have been forced to moderate the page but never intended to block you. We appreciate your thoughts.
    The strange thing is that we actually shared one of your posts this morning to our entire group.
    You can see an image here: http://twitpic.com/2qnbxd
    Sorry for any confusion.
    Thanks again,
    Ryan Osborn
    NBC News

  3. Actually, I was one of the first people blocked… and I didnt make any personal attacks… I asked people to make clear their affiliations and I challenged NBC on its one-sided presentation of the issues involved in education ‘reform’ in this country….

    I’m a journalist too, and I am horrified by this misuse of NBC’s responsibility…

    So, I posted my experience on various virtual media, including the Jon Stewart Daily Show story idea forum page… http://forums.thedailyshow.com/?page=ThreadView&thread_id=30615

    And then another person who was similarly blocked by NBC formed the Miseducation Nation facebook page and there you are…

    We now have 100 people “liking” the page (in about 36 hours), many of whom were also booted off NBC’s page, including Anthony Cody…

    Now, I’m an outsider (Dutch/Kiwi/Aussie now living in the US) and am pretty plain speaking, so my style might get up peoples’ noses, but most of the other people who got booted off were as nice as pie in expressing their disquiet…

    NBC is doing its best to shut up any opposing views, and is only slowly letting in criticism…

    I think I am still barred….

    Lovely – the land of the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech… so many questions to ask about connecting the dots and following the money……..

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. This is all quite curious.

    Normally, a discussion on network television about public education would be desirable, but Education Nation scares the heck out of me.

    I also think that once you’re flagged on Facebook, it’s like having a social media criminal record that will cause problems elsewhere on Facebook. I hope I’m wrong.

  5. Hey Gary,

    Thanks for writing about this. After hearing about teachers being blocked from contributing to the Education Nation Facebook Page, I started to interact with them on Twitter, too. Their explanation—which only came after a ton of pushing on my part—was the “we cannot tolerate personal attacks” line that they’ve been spinning in a bunch of forums.

    Then, there’s the “Oops, we’ve made a mistake” messages that you and other people have received.

    Then, there’s the people who were blocked, unblocked, blocked, unblocked, blocked and unblocked again with no explanation.

    I don’t see this as anything other than a media conglomerate that is used to pushing it’s own ideas without having anyone pushing back. Their heavy-handed approach to outside criticism doesn’t sit well with me….and makes me trust the show and programming even less than I already did!


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