The Hechinger That Could Be

Over at Eduwonk, Rotherham wisely points out that there's all in all too little of interest or relevance outside academia that's going on at Columbia's Teachers College these days -- and then mysteriously includes the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media as one of the few interesting things going on. I certainly agree that there's a lot of potential that comes with Hechinger -- the TC name, the popularity of media studies in academia, the importance of studying and improving the quality of media coverage of education issues, and two smart and well-known guys like Gene Maeroff and Richard Colvin.

And yet -- Gene and Richard may never hire me again after I say this -- the Institute is an ongoing mystery and frustration. Started 10 years ago, Hechinger was supposed to be much more than just another organization that ran seminars for reporters trying to get up to speed on education issues and put out occasional reports. Four years ago, with the arrival of Colvin, it looked like the organization was going to ramp up its efforts and break into new areas. It still could do so. I hope it will. But it hasn't yet, and I don't know why.

UPDATE -- To see Colvin's response (or add your own), click on the comments section below.


Anonymous o/b/o richard colvin said...

Alexander, thanks for the heads up on your critique.

We are doing much more than seminars. The Pre-k primer to which you contributed went well beyond anything available out there. The seminars we've done in connection with it have been well-attended and have greatly influenced coverage. (We track articles written by attendees and their use of material from the seminar.) We commissioned an extensive content analysis of the coverage of that issue—something that had never been done before—as well as a survey of editors. We’ll be redoing the survey later this year to see what has changed in the past two years. We've also surveyed journalists about their attitudes toward education research and education school deans about their views of journalists’ coverage of research. We organized a seminar for reporters in smaller markets to reach reporters who wouldn't otherwise get to go to such events and, to help the EWA, we bought them memberships. We'll be doing another one of those seminars this year. As you know, we offer the only annual seminar for education editors and we were the first to offer an annual seminar for higher education reporters, which has continued each year.

Having said that, there's always more that could be done and I'm open to suggestions as to ways we can contribute to “fair, accurate and insightful” coverage of education. Stay tuned. In the next year you’ll see a lot of other research, publications, and other projects that I think you’ll find interesting. A year from now I don’t think you’ll say that Hechinger "is just another organization that ran seminars…and put out occasional reports."

1:10 PM  

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