Schooling Scribes On Education Beat

This is how bad the news industry is getting. On some complicated beats, like education, newbies have to learn on the job because big-city papers have axed the older, and higher-paid, specialists. So how's a new kid supposed to get up to speed? The National Education Writers Association has a plan: Hire a coach. With some foundation money, the association has created a "public editor," who coaches rookies on the phone.

"In the thrashing around underway as papers downsize and reorganize," says Association President Richard Whitmire of USA Today, scribes "now report to an editor who knows little or nothing about education, which means no help in choosing or executing stories. Here, the public editor can help."

By Paul Bedard