Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Education Nation: NBC News Hosting Education Summit In September

NOTE: David Bauder is an Associated Press media reporter. Adjoining this puff piece on Huffington Post is an NBC ad.

Teacher Sabrina Comments: Next, NBC will host a health summit to highlight how unhealthy America is. They won't invite any doctors to contribute to any of the main events, but will broadcast tons of programming by those who just happen to have some interest in for-profit health ventures.

This is a sham. At least, it is right now. If they change course, and offer some real diversity in perspectives (read: views from actual teachers and parents, in schools and communities that are actually struggling, who haven't received any money from the Gates or Broad foundations), then it might be a worthwhile venture. But as it stands, this is shaping up to be a week's worth of one-sided propaganda (in a season already filled with it-- Waiting for Superman, anyone?). Kudos to those who are saying as much-- be sure to spread the word, and hold NBC accountable for offering a substantive dialogue.

by David Bauder

NEW YORK ΓΆ€” NBC News is convening its own summit with education and political leaders in September to talk about ways to improve schools in light of statistics showing the U.S. lagging in student achievement.

The two-day "Education Nation" event in New York will be carried online, and is part of a week of programming concentrating on education issues on NBC News broadcasts such as "Today" and "Nightly News," and the MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo TV networks.

It's also a chance for NBC to promote some of its education-related products, including a news quiz and historical archives of NBC broadcasts available to schools.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the governors of Minnesota and Tennessee, MIT President Susan Hockfield and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have all said they would attend, NBC said. It will be held on the week of Sept. 27.

"I say this as a parent," said NBC News President Steve Capus, "I think we're tired of accepting the status quo and having America show up in the middle of the pack when it comes to the education of our children."

Two-thirds of American eighth graders cannot read at their grade level and most of these students never catch up, according to the Nation's Report Card. The Strong American Schools analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that American students rank 25th in math and 21st in science on a list of 30 industrialized nations.

Education is one of those issues that doesn't receive the attention it deserves from the news media, said Lisa Gersh, president of strategic initiatives at NBC.

"If you talk to most people, they will tell you they understand the issues involving education but that their school is just fine," she said. "And that's just not true."

Other news organizations are welcome to cover NBC's event, Capus said.
Story continues below

The education summit is a step up for the occasionally activist approach to news that NBC has taken recently. The network held a "health week" earlier this year to emphasize stories on better eating. For a few years, NBC has had twice-a-year "green weeks" to emphasize environmental issues, events some critics suggest are partly done to burnish the image of parent General Electric Co.

"Education Nation" brings newsmakers to New York to put the issue in the spotlight ΓΆ€“ an approach from a news organization that many people are going to appreciate, said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute think tank.

"Part of what the public is frustrated about with the news industry is that we present the problems, but they don't lead to solutions," McBride said.

Capus said it was "an entirely appropriate move for a news division. We make decisions every day about where we're going to place emphasis, and why not place emphasis on this coverage and create the forums where we hope to have some dialogues? We're not going in with preconceived ideas."

NBC will build a "learning plaza" at Rockefeller Center where the public can see examples of interactive classroom technology and new teaching approaches. Among the products featured there will be NBClearn.com, where educators can buy access to film clips on historical events from the NBC News archives, and ICue, a news-based game.

Capus said those businesses have quietly become an important part of the news division, but he said the products will be a "tiny fraction" of the summit.

"This is not a sales exercise," he said.

McBride said that hawking the news products is a "minor conflict" that would only be a concern if it appeared that a major focus of the event was product promotion. They are issues likely to come up in the future as struggling news organizations develop niche products in an effort to help their bottom lines, she said.

— David Bauder, with comment by Teacher Sabrina
Huffington Post





This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.