It should come as no surprise to those of us in higher ed PR who try to get media attention for our institutions, but now it’s official: according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, the traditional news media pays scant attention to education.
Education coverage makes up just 1.4 percent of news covered on a national level, according to the report. And most of that coverage has little to do with learning.
Oddly enough, the amount of coverage in 2009 was an increase over the past two years (0.7 percent in 2008 and 1 percent in 2007.) “This makes it difficult for the public to follow the issues at stake in our education debates and to understand how to improve school performance,” the Brookings report concludes.
Brookings conducted an analysis of national media coverage of education in newspapers, news Web sites, network and cable television and radio during the first nine months of 2009. As CASE points out in its summary of the report, the researchers “found that newspapers and radio stations placed more emphasis on stories related to school finance and budget cutbacks, network television to stories on H1N1 flu or health issues, cable to politics in education, and online sites to education reform.”
I guess those of us in higher ed should be thankful that we get the lion’s share of the coverage. Twenty-seven percent of that national media coverage pertains to colleges and universities. Community colleges don’t fare so well, earning just one-tenth of the coverage four-year institutions receive — a 2.9 percent slice of education coverage overall.
The Brookings report offers several suggestions for improving the amount and quality of news coverage of education. Topping the list is a commitment by educational institutions to make communication with the news media a priority. Hey, that’s one of the reasons we’re in this business, right?