AUSD’s response included below.
Did you know the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) announced the buildings at the site of the Lum School are to be razed and replaced by temporary classrooms during the renovation of Wood School? The information was released exclusively first in this East Bay Times article written by Susan Davis, AUSD’s Community Affairs manager, published online September 6 in their news section, and on September 7, in print in the Alameda Journal.
You didn’t know? We didn’t either. We found out about the planned demolition and construction when an angry former Lum parent contacted us to find out what we knew about the school district’s plans. They also expressed their skepticism over unverified statements in the article that foundations for temporary classrooms would be safe on the same property that had been condemned as a liquefaction zone.
AUSD has a stated practice of giving taxpayer-funded content such as this and Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi’s bi-weekly column (listed on this page) to Bay Area News Group (BANG) properties for an exclusive window of publication before releasing to other press outlets, like the Alameda Post or the Alameda Sun. That is simply not right or equitable. AUSD should provide all media outlets with their content at the same time, with an embargo if desired, and not dole it out to other news publications on or after the date it was published by BANG.
As a publication exclusively focused on the city of Alameda, the Post has repeatedly requested the district to stop this unfair practice and provide content to all media outlets simultaneously and without delay to help get AUSD’s news and stories out to a wider audience, with no success.
When asked, Davis informed the Post that we would be only be permitted to have access to the content once it had appeared first on EastBayTimes.com, which requires a paid subscription or the reader’s personal information to access, and in print in the Alameda Journal. The Journal is only delivered to some Alameda homes, has no website, and is otherwise unavailable to the public. This is not equity, this is exclusivity.
We are proud to say that AlamedaPost.com receives at least 25,000 unique visitors per month, and we reach tens of thousands more via our social media accounts and news aggregators. We are the first source many Alamedans look to for up-to-date news and information. Earlier this year, the Alameda Chamber recognized us as Best Community Partner for 2023 at their Business Excellence Awards. We don’t obstruct anybody’s access to our content. Instead, as a nonprofit, we ask for your financial support for our operations in general so we can operate as an independent community resource.
It’s unethical for a municipal agency to have an exclusive agreement with only one outlet of the press. Your tax dollars are paying for AUSD content to be published exclusively in a way that is not fully accessible to the public.
Usually we publish an article once we receive information from the Community Affairs manager. (In this case it arrived the week after it was posted to the Times website—even later than usual, and only after we requested for it to be sent.) But we chose not to, because it’s time we took a stand on the issue.
The AUSD must stop their unfair practice. It’s unethical for a municipal agency to have an exclusive agreement with only one outlet of the press. Your tax dollars are paying for AUSD content to be published exclusively in a way that is not fully accessible to the public. It’s not fair to you or anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to the Times or have a driveway for the Journal to land on. Alameda’s schools are your community resource, and their information must be available freely and equally to maximize community access, not doled out based on a private agreement.
Until the AUSD terminates their unethical behavior and agrees to stop the unfair practice of favoring BANG properties with an exclusive publication window, the Alameda Post will not provide a platform for AUSD-authored content. We will only participate on a fair playing field. If you agree, please let the AUSD and the Board of Education know that you want your school district to treat all media outlets the same.
Publisher’s note: just before 1 p.m. on the same day we published this editorial, we received the following email:
I completely disagree with the analysis you presented in your editorial today.
However, the East Bay Times editors have offered to let you receive the column on the same day they receive it.
As such, you will receive the content on either Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings, twice a month.
The same information appears on our website, in our newsletters, and on social media, but now you will also have the same version the Journal receives.
Susan E. Davis, MJ, APR
Senior Manager, Community Affairs
We are pleased that this unfair policy of favoritism has been eliminated and look forward to providing the community with the timely news they have come to expect.
We still have questions and concerns as to why the East Bay Times editors were the ones responsible for changing this policy, not the AUSD, and will continue to follow up to find out why.
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