Mainstream Media and Higher Education News Reporting

by P.D. Lesko

For those who work within the field of higher education in the United States, finding industry-related news can be a chore. Of course, there is The Chronicle of Higher Education. The weekly newspaper strives to examine higher education with the detail of an electron microscope. Don’t get me wrong, I (and evidently the news-paper’s 90,000+ other subscribers) thoroughly enjoy the gossipy tales of tenure denied and research grants misused. But to twist a popular saying: “How is higher education playing in Peoria?” In other words, what are the mainstream media publishing about higher education?

One can always open the pages of the local daily paper and find a sampling of higher education reporting, but more often that not that reporting focuses on local colleges and universities. The two national newspapers with by far the most comprehensive coverage of higher education are The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times. Each paper boasts extensive coverage of higher education news and trends, as well as investigative exposés.

The Christian Science Monitor’s “Learning” section includes sub-sections which cover “higher learning,” “policy and reform,” “in the classroom” and “creative solutions.” The newspaper’s “higher learning” section focuses squarely on higher education in the United States. From stories about cash-strapped parents scurrying to college financial-aid offices, to an opinion piece in which the writer discusses his status as an “athlete-student,” The Christian Science Monitor presents readers with thought-provoking content.

The Monitor has an extensive section called “Monitor Talk.” There, one may participate in discussions about “Education and Kids.” As of this writing, however, there were no messages posted to the “Higher Learning” discussion. There are no resources for college faculty, and an archive search using the terms “part-time” and “adjunct faculty” resulted in links to a total of 17 article links. Be that as it may, The Christian Science Monitor is still an excellent independent newspaper with a keen eye for observing trends within higher education.

The New York Times’s “College” section is a rich collection of resources. Readers can browse the most recent higher education headlines, and even take part in discussions about higher education-related topics. There are also sections of the “College” page for readers interested in particular disciplines. Click on “social sciences,” for example, and the results page that comes up lists news story headlines which focus on the social sciences in college. There are a dozen “top subjects” (disciplines) from which to choose. There is also a pull-down menu which allows readers to select from subjects (disciplines) not represented in the “top subjects” list.

There is a link to “Faculty Resources,” and again there are headlines of recent news stories about college faculty or of interest to those who teach. On the “Faculty” page users will find links to “Science Times,” a piece from the Times’s superb stand alone print section, and “Books,” which presents a single book review or essay.

On the “Faculty” page the list of resources is nothing but a thinly disguised, ham-handed effort to encourage faculty to use The New York Times in the classroom. From the link to “curriculum guides” to “bring The Times to your classroom,” each resource pushes the product. The Times employs more reporters than almost any other newspaper in the United States. It shows on the paper’s Web page in the vast amount of content which is made available to readers.

While you’re at it, why not have a look at a few newspapers from around the world? The papers listed below, particularly All Africa, provide a remarkably rich collection of higher education news, links and (if you’re adventurous) job listings.

All Africa

Campus Review

The Guardian

The Times Higher Education Supplement

Several of these papers could teach The New York Times a thing or two about the coverage of the worldwide higher education news beat. One of the best is The Guardian published in England. Visit the paper’s wonderful “Higher Education” section. There, you’ll be able to read about higher education news pertinent to the United Kingdom. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that college faculty and administrators across the Atlantic faces the same challenges as do those in the U.S. Unique to The Guardian’s Web site is its “Third Degree” page. You’ll find a delectable collection of higher education “gossip, rumour and denials,” including tidbits from colleges and universities in the U.S.

You’ll also find links to a mouth-watering collection of book reviews, first chapters and extracts from the latest scholarly books published in English Click here. Looking for even more higher education news from around the world? The Guardian’s “Worldwide” page should whet your appetite. Read news and opinion pieces about higher education in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America.

Take a moment and explore the world of mainstream media higher education news reporting. Like any good adventure, what you discover will be limited only by your efforts and intellectual curiosity.

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