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The Changing Education News Landscape

The Changing Education News Landscape

The media have undergone dramatic changes in recent years.  As the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism 2011 State of the News Media report indicates, readers are now relying more on online outlets than newspapers (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1924/state-of-the-news-media-2011).  Traditional content - newspapers, television, and radio - have been supplemented by a remarkable range of new outlets and digital delivery systems.  There are free online sites that cover costs through banner advertising, paid seminars, and job postings.  Niche publications meanwhile target specialized audiences and deliver focused content to those individuals.  News aggregators compile material from other sources.  And non-profit sites use grants from foundations to produce and distribute education news.

Yet many of the most important topics in education receive little coverage.  Our study of coverage in 2009 found scant emphasis in national news reporting on education policy, curricular issues, teacher training, or school reform. Education reform generated just 4.7 percent of the national stories on education, and there was only 3.4 percent of the coverage devoted to curricular matters, 1.6 percent for education research, 1.3 percent on technology in schools, and 0.5 percent in regard to teaching training (West, Whitehurst, and Dionne, 2009). 

 The lack of coverage on essential education issues is a problem for public deliberation because discussions of teacher performance, school curricula, and education reform are central to improving the performance of public schools.  If parents and the general public receive little information on what is going on in the education process, it is hard for them to gauge what steps are needed to improve academic performance.  People must know what is unfolding inside schools to evaluate the efficacy of reform options.

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