Building Relationships with Local Media: Holding an Editorial Board Meeting Can Be One Very Important Way to Positively Affect the Media's Coverage of Career and Technical Education

Article excerpt

REPORTERS OFTEN HAVE A MISCONCEPTION THAT CTE STUDENTS ARE TROUBLED OR "AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RUNG." BUT TODAY'S CTE STUDENTS ARE SMART, TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY AND SUCCESSFUL. ACTE IS WORKING TO IMPROVE THE MEDIA'S PERCEPTION OF THEM AND THE PROGRAMMING IN WHICH THEY PARTICIPATE.

One of ACTE's goals is to improve the image of career and technical education (CTE) through outreach to the media. As media relations manager, I receive calls from reporters asking questions about the types of students who participate in CTE. Reporters often have a misconception that CTE students are troubled or "at the bottom of the rung." Today's CTE students are smart, technologically savvy and successful. ACTE is working to improve the media's perception of them and the programming in which they participate.

Other questions that often arise from the media are related to the types of careers students can enter with a background in CTE. Reporters often mention construction, cosmetology, culinary arts and the automotive field; but they are surprised to hear that CTE also prepares students for careers in engineering, architecture, interactive media, finance and emergency management, to name a few. In order to help alleviate these stereotypes, CTE advocates should educate and build relationships with their local media. One way to improve coverage is to meet with your local newspaper editorial board to discuss how CTE is being covered. Before scheduling a meeting, you should conduct a media watchdog campaign, which analyzes how a newspaper is covering a particular issue.

This will provide you with the opportunity to monitor how the paper is covering CTE. Presenting this information to the editorial board will give your viewpoint credibility, and it will bring CTE issues to the attention of editors and reporters, which will help improve

the coverage of CTE.

Media Watchdog Campaigning

Organize a group of four or five people to conduct the media watchdog campaign. The next step is to focus your analysis on an important issue in CTE. For example, the issue could be on how a newspaper covers CTE courses, promotes school events or includes CTE in workforce or dropout stories. Once the group selects the topic, here are steps on how to monitor the newspaper:

1. Each group member selects one day to monitor coverage of the topic (e.g. Monday). Each member will read through the entire paper and find stories that relate to the topic. This process can be simplified by assigning a person to each section of the paper.

2. Each member develops a chart that is divided into four sections: date of analysis, placement of stones (top or bottom half of the page, page number), type of coverage (i.e. positive or negative), and a description of photos, if included.

3. For each story or editorial relating to the topic, members fill an entry in the chart. If there is no story or editorial, then the member makes a note on the chart to reflect that.

4. At the end of a four-six-week period, the group will compile the results and analyze the coverage. From this analysis, the group will present its research findings during the editorial board meeting.

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How to Request an Editorial Board Meeting

After conducting the analysis, one member of the group should call the newspaper to ask the procedure for requesting a meeting with the editorial hoard. In many instances, the editor or board prefers to receive the request in writing. This request should introduce your organization, give the reasons for the request, and provide relevant information on the topic you would like to discuss. …