Why media stories focus on elite colleges

Why media stories focus on elite colleges

Partly because so many of those in the field went to elite schools, and partly because the major national news outlets like the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post are catering to their readers, who are the elite who also went to elite schools.

But it’s hard not to suspect that there is also another reason for reporters’ focus on elite colleges: At least in major national media outlets, that’s where most of them went. There’s no definitive data on where reporters went to school, but the newsrooms of influential media outlets in New York and Washington, D.C., are full of graduates from Ivy League or similarly selective colleges. Those who attended public colleges often went to a handful of top research universities such as the University of Michigan or the University of California, Berkeley. FiveThirtyEight is just as bad: The vast majority of our editorial staff, including me, went to elite, selective colleges. (I went to Columbia.)

“Ninety-five percent of the newsroom probably went to private institutions, they went to four-year institutions, and they went to elite institutions,” said Jeff Selingo, a longtime higher-education journalist who has a new book focused on giving advice to a broader group of students. “It is exactly the opposite of the experience for the bulk of American students.”

Shut Up About Harvard | FiveThirtyEight

Another interesting factoid: when movies and TV shows feature college campuses, they tend to use or model their campuses designs on elite Ivy League campus buildings.

The media has also given much coverage to those demanding the debts they took upon themselves, be paid for by other people. Sympathetic coverage by the media may be because journalists are disproportionately graduates of elite colleges and likely took on loan debt:

According to the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, students who graduated or withdrew in 2017 or 2018 from elite or highly selective colleges and graduate programs (as ranked by Barron’s) owed about 12 percent of all student debt in those years, but account for only four percent of all borrowers.

Biden is right: A lot of students at elite schools have student debt | Brookings

A disproportionate number of journalists attended elite programs. Many have, in non-discounted 2023 costs, an estimated $80,000 per year in tuition, fees, housing, food and other expenses. Some graduate programs cost $100,000 to $150,000, just in tuition and fees. Yet journalism, for most, pays very poorly – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates average pay at about $50,000 per year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *