Date of Award

Spring 1987

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Abstract

This study entailed surveying education reporters at 210 newspapers and school superintendents in 210 school districts in Wisconsin to determine whether a journalist's specialization in education affected educators' and journalists' attitudes about education coverage. While many studies have been done on the relationship of scientists and journalists, little has been done in other fields. Prior research showed that journalists with a specialization in science were better able to communicate with scientists and were better able to report science issues. For this study, a questionnaire was mailed to journalists and educators with a 68% response rate from journalists and a 76% response rate from educators. The results showed that journalists who had a specialization in education spent more time interacting with educators and discussing education issues with both educators and journalists. However, attitudes toward the accuracy of newspaper coverage of education issues, how well journalists understand education issues and how readily educators supply information to journalists generally were not significantly different for journalists with a specialization in education compared to journalists without a specialization in education. It is speculated that little difference was found between the two groups because few journalists in Wisconsin are full-time or nearly full-time education reporters. Therefore, there was little difference among the respondents regarding their academic training in education and the amount of time they spent covering education. It is suggested that further study be done in this area to determine how to make education coverage better.

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