Report: Education Media Coverage More About Sports Than Policy


According to a recent report, news regarding K-12 education is three times more likely to be covered by local, regional or state media than it is by the national press.

The study, Leading the News: 25 Years of Education Coverage, found education news coverage by more localized media to have risen 7.7% above the average level of coverage across the nation.  Almost 7% of all regional news coverage was found to pertain to education in comparison to the 2.3% of national news stories that was found to cover education.

In addition, it was discovered that almost 25% of all K-12 news stories focused on school sports, local school events, or education funding, with 13.6% of all education coverage involving sports — almost twice as high as any other topic.  Special events, including open houses and field trips, came in second with 5% of all reporting.

Although there has been a distinct increase in the amount of news-related education coverage, stories pertaining to education policy were found to be on the decline.  All policy-related reporting done by local, regional and state news sources was found to account for just 7.5% of all education news.  Policy topics that saw an increase in coverage in 2014 included education standards, school safety and school choice.

“People in local communities are interested in what’s happening, day to day, at their local schools. This study indicates that reporters and editors at local, regional, and state level media outlets genuinely value the public’s interest in, education-related coverage,” said Andrew Campanella, the study’s lead researcher. “At the same time, it is discouraging that cutbacks in newsrooms across the country has led to an overall decline in stories focused on education policy issues.”

Just 2.6% of education reporting between 2010 and 2014 focused on elections.  During presidential election years, Campanella found that education coverage typically drops by 6.5% when compared to coverage in the previous year.

Despite issues such as Common Core and standardized testing continuing relevance nationwide, coverage of education policy issues was found to have dropped 36% lower than the 25-year average in 2014.  Meanwhile, education spending and funding receive 5% of all coverage, more than twice that given to school choice, which comes in at 2.3%.

Although education standards such as Common Core do not receive much media coverage, the attention given to them has almost doubled between 1990 and 2014.  While school choice coverage is also on the rise, coverage pertaining to funding and spending has been found to be steadily decreasing across the last 25 years, relays Jason Russell for The Washington Examiner.

Authored by Andrew Campanella, an advocate for education reform, the study looked at the past 25 years of education coverage, with Campanella calling it “the first-ever report to evaluate detailed, long-term trends in education reporting.”

The report looked at news coverage between 1990 and 2014.  Researchers relied on archives of over 5,000 news sources for their findings.

06 25, 2015
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