Media: Why The Hoover Report On Media Fell Flat
It's not hard to get education reporters to write about things -- just tell them that their competition is thinking about writing about it, offer them an exclusive of some kind, or catch them when they haven't written and are starting to feel guilty. Your report doesn't have to be solid. Your proposal doesn't have to be viable. You don't even have to be addressing an obvious need. Say something funny or outrageous.
But sometimes it doesn't work, and the recent Hoover Institution report on Media Hits and Misses in 2012 Education Coverage is a good example of the occasional miss. The Hoover report found that journalists working for 43 outlets were doing a good job covering things like charrters, unions, SPED, pre-K, and NCLB, but a bad job on teacher pensions, Common Core, international comparisons, online learning, and Louisiana.
I didn't see any pickups from the mainstream media, or the trades. I didn't even see any blog posts, which is an even lower standard. Why not? There were obvious holes in the outlets that Hoover included -- the PBS NewsHour, for example. There were questions about just how deep the "content" analysis went beyond superficial headline counts. Last but perhaps most important, there wasn't any real measure by which to agree or disagree about whether the issues covered were important or not to warrant more coverage. The standard used -- " important enough to deserve more extensive coverage than they received" according to a group of experts -- was so obviously subjective it was hard to take seriously, even without the ideological bent of the group assembled.