The national news media missed a number of huge education stories in 2012, according to an empirical news analysis by the Hoover Institution’s education taskforce.
The five biggest news stories the media failed to cover thoroughly, the study found, were teacher pension deficits, Common Core education standards, international student achievement comparisons, online learning, and Louisiana’s landmark education reforms.
“We thought the less-covered ones were serious deficiencies on the part of the media,” said Bill Evers, a taskforce member.
Empirical News Analysis
The task force and research assistants used a computer program to analyze 21,514 education-related news stories from 43 of the nation’s largest media outlets, such as USA Today, Atlantic Monthly, National Review, Huffington Post, Fox News Special Report, and CBS Evening News. Koret Task Force on K-12 Education members judged whether certain central topics received an appropriate amount of coverage from October 15, 2011 to October 15, 2012.
“We thought we ought to do something more empirical and less subjective, because we are scholars and everyone has an opinion,” Evers said.
The taskforce also listed five education topics the media covered in proportion to their importance in 2012: charter schools, teachers unions, special education, pre-kindergarten, and No Child Left Behind.
‘Fraught with Consequences’
“The issues the media neglected are fraught with consequences for American education for years to come, and the public deserves to know more about them,” Evers said.
For example, states’ underfunding of teacher pensions means taxpayers will have to pay at least an estimated $325 billion for past overspending rather than future improvements to teacher pay and classroom instruction.
Approximately 80 percent of the public report they have heard little or nothing about the Common Core, though nearly all states are implementing the dramatic changes to what children will learn in every grade and how states test students and teachers. The report calls it an “astonishing level of public ignorance of a policy that already commands hundreds of millions of tax dollars, has Washington and all the major education groups buzzing, and is forcing officials in forty-six states to prepare their schools for compliance.”
“News Media Hits and Misses in 2012 Education Coverage,” Hoover Institution, December 2012: http://www.hoover.org/news/press-releases/136546 .
See School Reform News’s most recent coverage on all these topics:
- Teacher pension deficits 
- Common Core education standards 
- International student achievement 
- Online learning 
- Louisiana’s education reforms 
Image by Steve Webel .