Soledad O’Brien out as CNN host – will turn to documentaries

Soledad O’Brien will no longer be a host on CNN, but she’s staying with the network — sort of.

O’Brien told the New York Times that she is returning to the role she had before she became the host of “Starting Point” in 2011: a roving documentary reporter. The twist this time is that she is forming her own production company, Starfish Media, and will not be tied exclusively to CNN; she will be able to shop programs to other networks and air them on the Web as well.

O’Brien’s future as a regular face on the network was immediately put into doubt when CNN announced that Chris Cuomo would be its new morning host.

“We had conversations in general about my role at CNN,” O’Brien told the Times. “What we ended up with was, they wanted to partner with me, and I wanted to partner with them…”

Soledad is still in the polite phase hoping CNN has sufficient allegiance to their let’s-pretend reputation to pickup one of her documentaries. Poisonally, I doubt if they have that much integrity, conscience, or courage.

CNN later issued a press release saying it was excited to be “entering into a production and distribution agreement” with O’Brien, who was described as a “critically acclaimed journalist.” The release mentioned many of the programs O’Brien had made for CNN, but did not reference her current morning show at all.

The gossip mills say Chris Cuomo will be partnered with the Lady Anchor equivalent of Glen Campbell, Erin Burnett. Every ounce of honesty she ever searched for when working with the late Mark Haines has vanished since she jumped to CNN from CNBC.

As for Soledad O’Brien – cranky geeks have been following her career at least since she was a regular opposite Leo LaPorte [as Dev Null] in the 1990’s. She’s always maintained an amazing dedication [for American television] to honesty. I wish her well.

All of which serves as just another good reason to watch Bloomberg TV in the early morning. They’re dedicated to serving the barons of American capitalism and have learned one of the best ways to do that is to provide news as accurate as they can muster. A great position to be in especially since the Wall Street Journal has abdicated that responsibility since the purchase by Rupert Murdoch.

An intriguing design for school reform from Finland

Pasi Sahlberg speaking to students in Manhattan

Ever since Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million that does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers.

Finlandophilia only picked up when the nation placed close to the top again in 2009, while the United States ranked 15th in reading, 19th in math and 27th in science…

Critics say that Finland is an irrelevant laboratory for the United States. It has a tiny economy, a low poverty rate, a homogenous population — 5 percent are foreign-born — and socialist underpinnings (speeding tickets are calculated according to income).

One more reflection of America’s insular, ignorant, conservative politics.

Its school system has roughly the same number of teachers as New York City’s but far fewer students, 600,000 compared with New York’s 1.1 million. Finnish students speak Finnish and Swedish and usually English…the average resident checks out 17 books a year from the library…

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