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.
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