Why Reporters Don't Use Ed Research

The thing that jumped out at me at the Tuesday panel I did with
Stephanie Banchero from the Tribune and former USA Todayer Larry
McQuillen is how overwhelmed education reporters are with press
releases about studies coming out that day -- useless, pretty much, to
her -- and how the difficulty in figuring out what research is solid
leads folks like Stephanie to pretty much ignore research altogether.
She estimates that she's written just two study-based stories in the
past year, she says, and is increasingly using in-house data analysis
to put out timely stories on data sets released by the state and
others. Read more about this here.

My contributions, such as they were, included the observation that
think tank research is pushing out academic research -- and its
strategies for reaching reporters (embargoed reports, conference calls,
outreach, more concrete language) might be a good model for researchers
who want to get the word out. I also pointed out that there are
relatively few education researchers who blog about their work, leaving
the field to the think tanks and the handful of media-savvy folks we
hear from over and over.

Still, the one thought that keeps coming back to me is how powerful
it would be if a group of researchers like AERA came out with some
consensus findings every year -- like the international group of
scientists did about global warming recently -- so that reporters and
policymakers didn't have to hash through individual studies on their
own. Jack Jennings mentioned something about this during another
session I did this morning, which I'll write about soon.

Filed under: Media Watch

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