#MuckedUp chat Tuesday: Avoiding errors in education reporting
The education beat holds a cherished place in any outlet’s daily coverage, considering most audiences have a serious stake in academia. Unfortunately, because this topic is important to so many members of the public, education journalists must resist the temptation to overgeneralize or sensationalize the results, just to gain a few more clicks -- a temptation that recent trends suggest has proven too much for some reporters. The problem is further underscored when poor reporting becomes poorly formed policy on the national stage, which then in turn becomes faulty guidelines in a classroom. Frequently we find this is because the reported educational studies contained flaws, or were simply misread by the journalists who reported on them.
But while reporters can’t be expected magically to become experts on every subject in education, they can still commit to approaching these topics with precision and integrity. So how can we as journalists learn to read educational studies more intelligently, so that our reporting more accurately reflects their conclusions? And what about retweeting studies and articles -- should we be wary of retweeting unverified studies as endorsements, as NPR and AP have decided?
Next week we welcome co-authors (and husband-and-wife team!) Jessica Lahey and Tim Lahey as our guests on this very subject. Jessica is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a former English, Latin, and writing teacher. She writes about education and parenting for The New York Times in her bi-weekly column “The Parent-Teacher Conference” and on her site, Coming of Age in the Middle. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Will Succeed will be out in 2015 from HarperCollins. Meanwhile, Tim is an HIV doctor and researcher and associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine who has written for Scientific American, The Atlantic and The New York Times while blogging regularly at MedMurmurs. We look forward to a #MuckedUp under their very capable guidance, as we explore the best practices (and the worst) in educational reporting. Join us on Twitter next Tuesday, July 15, at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST!