Burned by the Media?
The Media and the Message: Interview with Chris Broderick (Part 1)
For seven years, at the Institute for Educational Inquiry (IEI) colleagues and I directed a program for educators and journalists from around the country. From this experience we concluded, among other things, that many educators don’t understand the role of journalists in a democratic society and frequently journalists are frustrated in their efforts to get and report a story. Elements of mistrust between the professions combine with lack of background knowledge by some reporter’s (particularly those in the visual media) to create less than ideal communications between the members of the two professions.
Since the end of that program, I have continued to hear from K-12 and college educators who are unhappy with journalists and to see evidence of continued frustration and lack of trust of educators by journalists.
To get some insights regarding the state of relationships of college faculty and administration with old and new media and ideas about what needs to be done in communicating through the media I interviewed Chris Broderick, one of the journalists who had participated in the IEI program as a Fellow and as an expert presenter. Chris has over thirty years of experience in daily journalism working at five newspapers in Oregon, Colorado, California, Nevada and Arizona, including nearly 20 years covering education, Prior to taking his present job he was the politics and education editor for the Portland Oregonian.
Chris is now the associate vice president for communications and marketing at Portland State University, Oregon’s largest university. He oversees a staff of 15 people who do media relations, external and campus communications, outreach, publications, the university website and marketing.
Getting directly to concerns expressed by educators who feel they have been "burned" by journalists and won't talk to them anymore:
“[Broderick said:] That view is shortsighted and counterproductive not only from a public relations perspective but often results in factual errors, unbalanced coverage and unintended consequences. I saw all that happen on a regular basis in my days as a reporter and editor, and I work to prevent that in my new role as communications chief at Portland State.
Moreover, public educators have a responsibility to be accountable to the public, and that includes communicating with the news media. When I talk to groups of teachers or professors and this issue comes up, I respond by saying that I too was burned as a reporter by individuals who lied to me or illegally covered up public information, but that does not justify [my] branding everybody else as a liar or a fraud. My experience is that most people on both sides of the aisle are reasonable, fair minded and responsible.”
To learn more about his observations regarding communications with the public through old and new media, check back for part two (dealing with the new media) and three (dealing with traditional media) of the report on this interview.
Meanwhile, what are your experiences in communicating with reporters or, if you are a reporter, in communicating with educators? Share them as comments on the main page of this blog.
Linda Perlstein shared her list of the ten best examples of education coverage during 2010.
(posted 10 28 10)
Education writers have been provided background information on the current hot topic: bullying. Take a look at EWA link and see if you think reporters are being given good information about this important topic.
(posted 10 24 100
One of the key issues for the media as they cover education is the question of access to schools and to people who have information about what is happening in schools.
Education Writers Association (EWA) has a posting on that issue with links to several recent stories about access problems. Community members and educators need to be aware of this issue because if the media can't gain information about what is really happening in schools, the public will be left to make decisions uninformed decisions.
(posted 9 27 10)
Periodically the media discover education as a topic. Oprah does her thing; CNN and other 24/7 media do a back-to-school bit. The New York Times publishes an education issue of its Magazine. Now NBC is trying to focus the nation's attention on educational issues. With a few notable exceptions, too few of the media features on TV or in print are by people who are well informed about education in the broad sense. To follow NBC converage check out NBC discovers education as a topic -- check out http://www.educationnation.com/ .(posted 9 17 10)
Education Wrtiers Association raises the question of whether media reporters are too negative. Check it out at the following link: Ed Wrters Comments
(posted on August 23 2010)
As students head back to school, the media (local and national) do their annual back-to-school stories. Wouldn't it be great if the newspapers and television outlets decided to invest in people who had an opportunity to really know what they are talking about? Too many of these annual stories will be told by people with little knowledge of the history of educational innovations or the purposes of education in a democratic society. As they look for the approaches that help ratings or readership data, they will expose their listeners, viewers, and readers to distorted and misinformed pictures of the reality of schooling in this country. Meanwhile, the few good, well grounded reporters will labor on with too little recognition or opportunity for inches or minutes.
(Posted June 2010 on home page)
The media and schools are two forces within a community that share significantly in the responsibility for ensuring that the public is well educated. Journalists and educators need to understand each other as they work independently to accomplish their goals. Consider the following statements and share your views by commenting below:
1. The goal of journalism and education should be to have a well-informed public. This includes the notions that good journalism is not always praise of education or educators and schools are responsible for contributing to the development of a media-literate public;
2. Open access to media by educators and by media to educators/schools is important;
3. It is necessary for there to be mutual understanding of key or core issues of each profession;
4. Educators and journalists need to have a commitment to First Amendment principles and to other key, and sometimes competing, values of democratic society. At the least, this means that the work of each profession should be transparent;
5. Economic conditions influence each profession, and economic conditions are influenced by the way the professions practice their trade;
6. Citizens play a key role in the success of both institutions and their distrust of both institutions presents challenges;
7. Journalism and educational practices at the local level are critical to the health of our communities; and
8. Major revolutions are under way in education and journalism. It is essential that practitioners in both professions understand these changes and take advantage of the opportunities they present.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study concludes children spend about 40 hours a week with various media. By the time today’s children reach age 30 they will have spent an average of 10 years in front of a screen. Obviously children are engaged with media for more hours each day than they are in school (although there is some overlap since some of their time with media is when they are in school where they are more likely to be sharing text messages than their parents were to pass notes to other students.)
How does all this time with the media affect what children learn?
ASCD reports March 30, 2010 the following from Edutopia
How to help students evaluate online news, information
Students can be inundated with information online, and should be taught how to determine fact from fiction when searching for news and information online. The News Literacy Project offers tips to help students evaluate what they read. Students should consider whether they are reading an opinion column, news article or blog post, think critically about what they are reading, recognize bias, use Wikipedia with caution and double-check information using reliable Web sites, such as FactCheck.org or Snopes.com. Edutopia magazine (4/2010)