Teachers & Journalists Have Much In Common

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With a slew of Pulitzers and Peabodies of the past few days, the praise and excitement has been hard to ignore. But let’s not forget that journalism — education-focused and otherwise — is in a tremendously uncertain time for those who’ve decided to make it their career. 

Just like education.

In a recent column titled This Is Why You Don’t Get More Media Love, union critic Mike Antonucci makes the claim that despite all protestations teachers aren’t as “overworked, underpaid and unappreciated” as other kinds of workers — including reporters.

Teachers average $57,379 (according to NEA) and rank 122nd on the latest CareerCast list of worst jobs. Newspaper reporter is ranked as worst, and the salary average is lower too — $36,390.

“So if you want a more sympathetic ear,” according to Antonucci, teachers “might consider adjusting your talking points to account for the poor slob who has to write about how tough you have it.”

Antonucci’s argument makes a certain amount of sense, but it presumes that media coverage of teachers is broadly unsympathetic and it might not be the only dynamic at play between reporters and teachers.

An alternative possibility might be that reporters and teachers have much in common in the current economy, a tendency towards affinity rather than antagonism. Teachers and journalists are both college-educated, predominantly white, and underpaid for their academic credentials compared to other fields.

What’s more, both teachers and reporters have some cause to feel beleaguered by the current economic environment (though there have been many more layoffs in journalism than in education, over all). Read more about the dismal job prospects for reporters here: Worst Jobs of 2016.

And both traditional education and publishing are facing enormous challenges, including (on the classroom side) the rise of charter schools and online learning and (on the journalism side) the rise of PR and marketing “seeking to bypass a shrinking media industry and tell their own stories,” according to a recent Muckrack article.

There’s no real way to determine whether reporters tend towards sympathy or antagonism with classroom teachers. What seems clear no matter how you look at it is that the two occupations have an awful lot in common.  That’s probably why teachers are at the top of the marriage list for reporters (unless they marry other reporters).

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.