College Media’s Economy Coverage Lower than the Dow

Why are j-students avoiding the economy?  In an interesting new piece for MediaShift, Center for Innovation in College Media director Bryan Murley laments about the lack of coverage in collegemediatopia focused on the global economic implosion and those affected by it:

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[W]hile much of the professional media has mobilized to cover the crisis, the response by college media hasn’t been as encouraging. . . . Over the past week, I’ve surfed a ton of college media websites looking for innovative ways these journalists were telling the biggest story of their generation. And I’ve mostly come up empty.

He mentions that the expected reports are present: the can’t-nobody-get-a-job-in-that-there-real-world pieces and the let’s-avoid-the-real-world-and-stay-in-grad-school enrollment spiking stories. (I’d add numerous pieces I’ve seen on school endowments plummeting and those on admissions offices contemplating how low tuition rates should go to ensure students can afford to enroll.)

But why are student outlets generally shying away from providing news and views on the meltdown to end all meltdowns?

Two theories, both with holes, for the sake of discussion:

1) Economic stories are hard. They involve numbers and stuff. As a student reporter, it took me a semester just to learn lede writing and to gather the courage to talk to people.  Is it possible actually mastering a beat as complex as all-things-financial represents a knowledge base and skills set beyond the means of many j-students? (Or maybe they are not up for taking the time and expending the effort to learn?)

2) Re: Relevance. The cliche no-jobs-for-soon-to-be-grads stories are run so often because, frankly, it is the most relevant issue to students. Do students truly view the larger impact of the economic woes as the issue of their generation? Or is it something they see as a mess their parents or older siblings are going through?

Murley has definitely identified an interesting trend. What do you think are the causes behind it?

Comments
One Response to “College Media’s Economy Coverage Lower than the Dow”
  1. carriewells says:

    I can’t speak to the coverage at other colleges but at the University of Maryland, I think we do a pretty good job of covering the economy. But the stories highlighted are different from those in Murley’s column.
    The Diamondback has covered the budget crisis in the state and how it will affect the university, specifically in regard to tuition, new programs and building plans. They’ve covered the endowment, which has fallen by almost a quarter. A huge redevelopment plan in the city is on hold because of the economy. The effects of the stimulus plan and trends like graduate loan repayment have been localized.
    At least half the stories have some kind of economic angle.
    I agree that the no jobs for grads stories are cliche, even though some are necessary. But my question for you would be, are these stories that address university issues what student reporters should be focusing on, or should they expand to issues like TARP, tax rates or credit card interest rates?
    Your theories are somewhat true but don’t show the whole picture. Economic stories with lots of numbers can be hard for a newbie reporter, but they aren’t impossible and can be learned pretty quickly. And the economy is extremely relevant for many students. I think the problem with coverage might be a failure of a beat reporter to cover their beat properly and a failure of their editor to recognize it.
    Back to Murley’s column, I think the “who do you know?” part might be a little off. Stories on how does this affect YOU would be better. College students aren’t insulated and there are tons of angles.