Back
The Company

Predictions on the future of news from Chief Content Officer Jennifer Coogan

Jennifer Coogan
Jan 7, 2022

Remember when covering the local school board was a job for reporters with a high tolerance for tedium and technocracy? These days, it’s better suited for ones with war-zone experience.

I’d like to believe this will pass, but it looks set to get even worse — and the one thing that I believe could calm it doesn’t appear likely.

This year, my colleagues and I have spent a lot of time studying the growing AdFontes Media Bias Chart. It plots media sources according to two factors: left/right bias along the X-axis and reliability along the Y-axis. One thing that jumps out right away when you look at it is the sparse patch in the top-right quadrant.

Per AdFontes, Reuters (my long-ago former employer) rates -2.1 on the bias scale, indicating a slight left-leaning, and 48.81 on the reliability scale, one of the highest ratings for being “fact-based.” Alas, there’s no mirror equivalent — no source rating around +2 on the X-axis with a similarly high reliability rating, other than Stars and Stripes, 10 News San Diego, and a Wall Street Journal podcast. Meanwhile, Reuters is joined by AP, PBS, AFP, ABC World News Tonight, NOLA.com, the Weather Channel, and many, many others.

For anyone who desires a balanced media diet — but doesn’t want to dip into the zone of analysis, commentary, and opinion — it’s really hard to match like-for-like. Now, if you’re a dyed-in-the wool liberal or progressive, maybe you don’t care that there isn’t a counterpoint to World News Tonight — but you should. You don’t need to read it or watch it if you don’t want to: You just need for it to exist. Otherwise, the net effect is that fact-based reporting itself becomes a political landmine. The “MSM” label gets cemented in the public consciousness of anyone who isn’t sated by a left-only diet.

In my present industry, I see and fear the damage this is wreaking. Schools are having to approach the discussion of daily news with trepidation. Strident school board meetings have a chilling effect. That sixth-grade current events assignment we all enjoyed — the one that probably got many of us interested in journalism in the first place — may go extinct for today’s students as school administrators have to weigh the risk of another nightmarish outburst during public comment time.

This is Code Red bad for education, and for civic life. Civics can’t be taught well in the abstract. Neither can science, or history. They all benefit from teachers having real-world, up-to-date examples that put hard concepts into context.

So long as center-left, fact-based sources grossly outnumber those on the other side, the very notion of news will have a hard time shaking its association with the liberal media. Here’s a prediction: When school resumes next fall, right in time for what promises to be a bruising midterm season, opening any kind of discussion about the news of the day will require a level of bravery more typically associated with test pilots than that of the workaday teacher.

A new crop of right-of-center sources — or a slight rightward migration of some existing publications — would help bring the balance that could restore daily news as a shared American institution. But I don’t think that’s in the cards for 2022. While it may be what we need, it’s not what we’ll naturally demand, given our reliance on social media and personalized feeds that are perversely engineered to narrow our news diets. Market forces won’t conjure this rebalancing; it will take dedicated funding from mission-driven institutions that care about the role of news in civic life, no matter which direction they lean.

This piece was originally published in Nieman Lab's "Predictions for Journalism 2022".

The Latest from @Newsela

With only a few weeks until the 2022-23 school year, we want to make sure students are not only ready academically, but also socially and emotionally Here are 3️⃣Ways to Center Whole-Child Instruction in ELA this Fall➡️https://t.co/bxtH0f34zW https://t.co/cucZX7TNmR
August 5, 2022, 4:22 PM
Beyoncé is an ICON but we already knew that 👑🐝 Check out this text set that features how she and other iconic African American musicians have used music to preserve and celebrate cultural traditions and resist oppression ➡️ https://t.co/O70bPTuq9H https://t.co/f9yi1ejs5Q
July 29, 2022, 5:10 PM
You know that feeling when you want to help your students, but you just don’t know how? 👋 *Enter Newsela* Click to learn what you need to know before, during, and after assigning Newsela texts so striving readers can make serious gains ➡️https://t.co/BJa6wsJnyk #teachertwitter https://t.co/9gfIyT7p5o
July 27, 2022, 10:02 PM
🚨 Last day to apply for the Newsela Fellows Program! 🚨 As a fellow, you'll be part of a supportive community of educators, coaches, and school leaders, PLUS get early access to product updates and programs with Newsela. Click to learn more ➡️ https://t.co/S5YlmLTzeG https://t.co/qi3VOJ7JTu
July 26, 2022, 8:26 PM
Teacher's 🧑‍🏫, How do YOU unlock your students full potential? Join us 8/9 and uncover some of our helpful methods that utilize safety, belonging, and learning. https://t.co/9at2TfaMzA #TeacherTwitter #EdTech
July 22, 2022, 12:58 PM
Another day of Summer Workshops continues. Join us today and learn how to easily integrate SEL supports into your instruction. Click the link below to register now! ➡️https://t.co/7Kar1oEEwg https://t.co/uZxOm7jCz7
July 19, 2022, 2:09 PM
Join us 8/9 on how to create safety and belonging in the classroom so every student can learn and unlock their full potential. 💙 ➡️https://t.co/9at2TfaMzA
July 18, 2022, 7:46 PM
🤗 Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade. Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade. Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade. Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade. Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade.Upgrade. ➡️https://t.co/z9hStR9pgR https://t.co/7ZCBjGk7ey
July 14, 2022, 5:54 PM
We took a deep dive into what students were reading and looking for on the Newsela platform and some of the results may surprise you. 🤯 Click the link below to see the stats. 👀 ➡️https://t.co/z9hStQROpj https://t.co/DKXMxQGsCk
July 13, 2022, 8:00 PM
Day 3⃣ of our Summer Workshops focuses on differentiation. Join us virtually today as we discuss the tools, resources, and strategies designed to help assist teachers in the classroom. #TeacherTwitter 🔋Refresh 🔌Connect ⚡️Energize ➡️https://t.co/7Kar1oEEwg https://t.co/LzoJUjZQXf
July 13, 2022, 3:12 PM

The best lessons start with the best content.

Ready to bring great instructional content to your students?

Contact Sales