By Phil Hill
In a post last month I questioned the growth claims that D2L was pushing to the media based on their recent massive funding round. A key part of the article was pointing out the lack of real reporting from news media.
It is worth noting that not a single media outlet listed by EDUKWEST or quoted above (WSJ, Reuters, Bloomberg, re/code, edSurge, TheStar) challenged or even questioned D2L’s bold claims. It would help if more media outlets didn’t view their job as paraphrasing press releases.
I should give credit where it’s due: Education reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy at Buzzfeed has done some solid reporting with her article out today.
In response to detailed questions from BuzzFeed News about figures to back up its claims of record growth in higher education and internationally, the company released a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying “As a private company, D2L does not publicly disclose these details. The past year has been one of record growth for D2L, culminating in the recent $85 million round of financing.” A representative declined to make the company’s CEO, or any other executive, available for an interview related to the company’s growth.
The stonewalling didn’t come as a surprise to former employees with whom BuzzFeed News spoke.
“The picture they’re painting of growth is not accurate,” said one former employee, who left the company within the last year and asked to remain anonymous, citing his confidentiality agreement with the company. “If you look at actual metrics, they tell a different story. They’re very likely not seeing growth in higher education.”
Molly’s article included discussions with three former D2L employees, an interview with CSU Channel Islands CIO Michael Berman, and a D2L official response (in a manner of speaking). Who would have thought that Buzzfeed would be the source of valuable reporting that challenges the all-too-easy headlines provided through press releases?
Me, for one. If you follow the Buzzfeed education articles, you’ll notice a pattern of this type of reporting – mostly focused on the business of education. Consider the following articles:
- The Education Department’s Problematic Billion-Dollar Partnership With Debt Collection Agencies
- Students At For-Profit College Say They Weren’t Told Their School Was Being Sold
- Documents Show What The Department Of Education Knew About Corinthian College’s Financial Situation
In each case, Molly challenges public perceptions, digs up unique information through interviews and document research, and describes the findings in a hard-hitting but balanced article. Buzzfeed is becoming an important source for education news and a welcome addition.