In the news today, we often find stories about child abuse, bullying, crime, natural disasters and many other newsworthy events. Many of these events turn out to be deadly, exciting events that touch not only the lives of the people involved but the lives of those who observe them as well. A brief search of the Internet would yield stories that are relevant to education. These stories tend to provide some insight into why education is important.
News, like sports, is a human need that is not always met. Few news items are of interest to all cultures. Thus, the need for translation means that a story is presented as it really is, with an attempt at translation from one language to another. An example of this can be seen in an article about California Schools’ troubled relationships with local administrators and teachers. One news article reported that the state’s Board of Education “ordered an investigation into the affair, which came to light just before Christmas, after an internal report was released showing a series of management mistakes that went largely unnoticed for months.”
The California Teachers Association, which was not named in the article, issued a press release about the report. The report said that “a lack of communication between teachers and school administrators in recent months has resulted in a situation that puts children and parents in danger.” That newsworthy information provided additional fodder for those who oppose teacher malpractice lawsuits and the teaching of bad study habits. The complaint stated, “The current model of schooling and student instruction does not adequately protect students from harm or neglect.” The article quickly went on to say that such a model should not be changed because “that’s just the way it is.” Although there were suggestions that a variety of governance arrangements might be made, the article offered no advice as to how such changes should occur.
Another group that was not mentioned in the news article was the business community. Many people complained that the emphasis of the news stories was political, rather than professional or educational in nature. Apparently, the focus of many news reporters is to present the political view of any issue, rather than to provide information that will help people make better decisions. As such, some business leaders felt that the focus on public school reform was skewed and tilted toward the left. Others felt that the problems in public schools were better handled by professionals, and not by those who are passionate about education.
Some people turned to blogs to read the news. Blogs have become sites of debate and discussion. In this respect, the news article may have been informative but it may also have been too political. Those who read the blog were left frustrated and, again, their opinions were colored by the news story’s point of view. When hard news stories are trumped by political blather, the reader begins to distrust the news source, whether or not the story is true.
Of course, another group that was disappointed with the story was the local news outlets. Those stations that specialize in one topic or another did not cover the story. While they did provide commentaries, they did not carry the entire story. Instead, they referred only to the lead item, without offering a counterpunch.
A look at all the outlets that were mentioned in the stories studied reveals that there was a general consensus that the local news stations were missing out on great opportunities to educate the public. Even those who disagreed with the opinion of those who wrote the stories felt that those outlets had done a good job in covering the issue. Those who were critical of the lack of original reporting also thought that those who wrote the stories had done a good job in reporting the facts.
Whether the lack of original reporting is due to the overall decline of the print industry or to the rise of social media, the future of news will come from new media. As social media takes a major share of the market, business owners are likely to seek new venues for their news stories. This is likely to increase the need for people with both journalism experience and new media skills.