Covering Education

A report issued today by the Brookings Institution, Invisible: 1.4 Percent Coverage for Education is Not Enough (pdf) indicated that the press insufficiently covers education issues. Apparently in 2009 less than two percent of national news focused on education issues. According to the report, this dearth of coverage is upsetting because:

Education is one of the most crucial issues facing the United States. With 50 million students enrolled in public pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools, another six million in non-public k-12 institutions, and 18 million in postsecondary institutions, education represents a fundamental mechanism for social and economic advancement and long-term civic engagement. But the ability of the general public to understand what is happening in elementary and secondary schools, as well as higher education, is limited by the current collapse of traditional media organizations.

The trouble is that actually coverage of everything went down in 2009. The current financial situation for journalism does not bode well for coverage of any issue, including education.

But the authors of the Brookings study are not the only people worried about education and journalism. Early last month journalist G. Pascal Zachary argued in the Chronicle Review that higher might be able to rescue the news industry by embedding journalists in American universities. “Universities,” said Zachary, “because they are the foremost repositories of expertise, are the ideal place for explanatory journalists to take refuge.”

While the details of the Zachary proposal are somewhat unclear, it has some potential to address both the want of education coverage and the lack of journalism jobs. Worth a try anyway.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer