Jason Spencer still doesn't like Terry Abbott
Speaking of HISD, on the Chronicle's School Zone blog, Jason Spencer takes on one of his favorite targets: HISD spokesman Terry Abbott.
Spencer doesn't like Abbott's aggressive style. He doesn't like that Abbott sends out press releases suggesting positive stories. He doesn't like that Abbott provides tips for other school districts on how to get good news stories on-air or in print.
It's quite an unusual post, to say the least. We certainly don't see the Chronicle getting too worked up about the aggressive PR machine that runs Mayor White's City Hall. Nor have we seen much fretting about HPD's portrayal of bad crime stats as "only bad if one lives in a hot spot." And we certainly don't see the Chron wringing its hands over Metro's PR efforts -- heck, sometimes it seems as though the Chron's editorial board is in charge of Metro's PR efforts!
Then Spencer posts this comment:
I expect a certain amount of spin in press releases. But I have a problem with HISD's press office when the folks there refuse to hand over information that is clearly public in a timely manner. This newspaper had to get lawyers involved to find out how much money individual teachers were paid under HISD's bonus system, for instance.
And our lawyers are currently fighting the HISD administration's refusal to give us access to school board meeting agenda information as soon as it is prepared. Without this information, we can't do our jobs properly. For instance, the policy proposal that was the subject of Abbott's e-mail press release from last Sunday was made available to school board members no later than the Friday before. But the press office makes us wait until Monday to see the official proposal. That way, we're forced to either hold the story and get beaten by our TV news competitors, who are willing to regurgitate the press release, or report on the issue without all the facts.
I'm fine with spin. It's obstructionism and delay tactics that I have a problem with.
Would the Chronicle please -- please! -- put Spencer in charge of overseeing all Metro stories?? That way, Tom Bazan won't have to wait MONTHS to get his TXPIA requests filled. Shoot, Spencer's crying about having to wait a couple of days; I'll bet Tom Bazan wishes he only had to wait a couple of days to get his requests filled!
The weird part of Spencer's post is when he complains that Abbott sent out a press release last weekend. KHOU-11 posted the information to its website on Sunday, but the Chron (apparently) was forced to wait until Monday to print a story because HISD didn't release the official proposal until then. And Spencer didn't want just to reprint a press release (something that hasn't been a problem for the Chronicle in the past).
The irony is that Spencer has gotten himself all worked up over an HISD proposal that he calls "marginally newsworthy." Well, if it's so marginally newsworthy, then what's the problem? Why does he care what other news outlets are doing?
Because Abbott is good at what he does, I guess. And Spencer has had a beef with HISD for quite a while now.
Meanwhile the systemic problems that plague this district don't get nearly the attention HISD gets. Let's see Jason Spencer throw some real resources and outrage in North Forest ISD's direction! HISD has been working for several years now to improve the education it provides its students. The same can definitely not be said for North Forest ISD.