Part 2 of 5 – NorFilly reflects, Bracetti responds
The thing about the first article we ran on the school is the fact that local grassroots newspaper Community Focus also carried the story. Being a lesser known (just a baby) publication, NF took some heat, but not as much as Focus. David Roche, production manager at Focus, received a number of calls about the article, published on the front page of his periodical. Professional to the core, he passed the complaints of heated administrators at Bracetti and the rants of angry parents on to NorFilly Magazine. And we dealt with them.
First, we established that neither NF nor Focus has any personal feelings against Bracetti Academy. Neither publication, asserted, sought the story or had intentions of harming the school or its reputation in any way. Certainly, it sparked a bit of controversy and some conversation, but in the eyes of NF… that is all it did. Yet, some other things had to be clarified for all readers.
Next, there were some misunderstandings that arose throughout the process. Being an English-language publication, we experienced difficulties in translating for our Spanish-dominant interviewees. Throughout our three meetings, we used three different translators, and some meaning became lost in those translations. For this, NF apologized and corrected some misinformation that was unintentionally published in its first article.
We even had to clarify an important issue on which readers in the school’s defense said that our writing was one-sided. Complaints arose about Ida Navarro being the only parent interviewed in preparation of our first article. Such was not the case. We interviewed several parents, but most said they didn’t wish to be quoted because “the school” (they weren’t specific) told them if they talked to the press, they’d be sued. When asked about it, school administration didn’t know where that information might have come from. In fairness to Focus readers, we requested that Community Focus also run our corrections, and they did.
Finally, NF ensured that any response from the district, school or administration should be carried in NF, the publication that originated the story based on parent complaints. Focus was good about passing on information as warranted, and we even contacted Villani and Davis to make sure NF was included (to their confusion) in their response. We did, after all, want to tell the whole story, and we made that clear all involved.
At the same time, Bracetti School was preparing its “rebuttal”, appearing in the same edition of Focus Newspaper as our reflection. In it the school talks about Mariana Bracetti, the woman for whom the school was named, and about the school’s accomplishments that put it a notch above other area schools, like Stetson Middle or Kensington and Edison High Schools. Their piece was in defense of parental complaints and claimed that “achievement isn’t the only reason parents love Bracetti Academy.”
Surely, our article was described in letters and e-mails as “one-sided” or “unbalanced.” In our reflection, we conceded that the story was compiled hastily, but with no bad intentions. However, there were more readers who saw the school’s response as “unnecessary” given the circumstances in which it was conceived. One interesting feature of their response, though, is that it brought readers back by promising to let them hear from students who apparently like their school just the way it is.