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Schoolteachers in the News: A Historical Analysis of Coverage in The West Austral ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Schoolteachers in the News:

is also a very strong implication that while teachers are underpaid and the profession is suffering from low morale, it is largely the profession’s (and its unions’) fault.7

This conclusion was reinforced in a subsequent (Australian) senate inquiry into the status of the teaching profession, which found that media coverage of teachers was ‘negative, misleading and ill-informed’8 and that it influenced parents’ and students’ perceptions of teachers.

Other research has pointed to the growing influence of media coverage on education policy. In a special 2004 edition of the Journal of Education Policy devoted to exploring the issue, Thomson described education policy and media coverage as ‘irrevocably inter-connected’.9 In the same issue, Lingard and Rawolle contended that media coverage was becoming important in all areas of education policymaking and that in some educational domains, media coverage of potential policy areas could serve almost as a ‘de facto policy’.10 Research in the area has also indicated that newspaper coverage of educational issues can be particularly influential.11 Regarding Australia, for example, Snyder, after reviewing media coverage about national literacy standards, concluded that the press ‘played a critical role in informing and influencing public debate and policy about reading’.12

Concurrently, newspaper coverage of education and teaching has been growing.13 This has been demonstrated in the Australian and British print media, with many newspapers employing dedicated education reporters and publishing education supplements. Editors perceive education issues to be of great interest to their readership and, hence, likely to boost circulation figures.14

Given this scenario, it is not surprising that the relationship between education and the media has been the focus of researchers. For some, the interest has been purely sociological. Others have been interested in understanding developments better so that any suggestions for action can be informed by a scholarly body of knowledge. As they have increasingly