From the American Journalist Survey at The Poynter Institute:

U.S. journalists are much more likely to have earned college degrees than the overall adult population in the United States (89.3 percent vs. 25.6 percent) and the overall U.S. civilian labor force (30.4 percent).

That statistic is very difficult for me to accept at face value. I am a journalist. Of the dozens of people that I know, only four ended school before college graduation.

Does this mean that the survey finding is misleading or inaccurate, or does it mean that journalists live their lives and careers befriending and reporting about people who are themselves unrepresentative of the general population?

Comments submitted to XGW’s former blog location:

Read that quote again. “much more likely….” “and the overall U.S. civilian labor force”. It doesn’t make any sense. This quote just doesn’t compute.

rich pure&simple • 4/13/03; 5:28:31 PM

I don’t understand why anyone would have difficulty believing that the vast majority of journalists have a college degree and that the vast majority of American adults as a whole do not. I don’t find that at all surprising.

Duane Williams • 4/13/03; 5:43:27 PM

I obviously need to refresh my knowledge of various studies measuring educational levels among different U.S. demographic groups.

The reason I’m raising media issues on this blog is simple: The religious right rants that the media carry a liberal bias. Liberals rant that the media project a bias in favor of greedy corporate elites. And gay and ex-gay activists complain that reporters never get their stories right.

My opinion recently had been that the media are disliked by so many different demographic groups because journalists are under pressure to keep stories short and oversimplified. According to the pollsters and advertisers, consumers simply don’t read or watch long, complicated, and therefore realistic news stories. So the media oversimplify the news for them. But then all sorts of advocacy groups (and opinionated consumers) all feel slighted by the oversimplified and out-of-context portrayals.

This alleged educational divide suggests to me that while the media are oversimplifying issues, they are also failing to cross an important cultural gap between the well-educated and the less-educated.

—Mike A. • 4/13/03; 6:44:55 PM

A cultural gap between the well-educated and the less-educated? Hmmm… I’m having trouble getting my arms around that concept. To the extent it exists, pharmacists, police officers, hair stylists and college instructors all would have to cross cultural gaps based on education level. “Alleged” sounds like a key word to me.

In the personal and professional circles I’ve run in, there have tended to be broad mixes of education levels. Financial and political issues there segregate and stratify folks much more than education. Some of the best-read folks and most successful folks are light on education, and vice versa.

—Steve • 4/14/03; 7:06:49 AM

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