October 31, 2009
The national media’s interest in the education realm has shifted from the topic of policy changes regarding the fiscal responsibility of students seeking higher education to the very different focus of the stimulus’ effect on the number of jobs in education. Less directly commentating on the livelihood of the actual education programs in the country, the abundance of education news articles hone in on the relationship between the stimulus money and the number of jobs created or saved in the education sector.
The New York Times covers the stimulus-education topic in the article, Schools Are Where Stimulus Saved Jobs, New Data Shows. This coverage of the issue is generally encouraging—highlighting the happy reality that the “best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.” The very language in this opening line, using the word ‘saved,’ automatically suggests that the stimulus spending has been positive. Further, as ‘polioptics’ has proven to be a powerful influence in the media, the article visually sways the readers with an adorable photo. Directly above the text of the article, a picture depicting little children in costume at a California elementary school’s Halloween Parade serves to ally the reader with the positive message of the author: the stimulus has done a good job with saving and creating jobs in the education sector.
While the stimulus-supporting sentiment of the NYT article prevails as it highlights the claimed “640,239 jobs” created so far and, in doing so, aligns with the seeming liberal sway of the paper, the author takes care to warn readers halfway through the article to take the announced job figures “with a grain of salt.” Another article on politico.com, Saved or created? W.H. can’t tell, spends more time discussing the fact that the numbers of jobs claimed to be saved or created by the White House is not necessarily rooted in solid fact. Unlike the New York Times article, this coverage on politico jumps directly on the assertion that Obama and other public officials don’t really know what they’re talking about when they discuss specific numbers of salvaged jobs. The White House is made to look unsure and almost sloppy when the article toots the reality that “officials acknowledged they can’t tell the difference between jobs ‘saved’ and jobs ‘created’” by the stimulus, nor can they differentiate between “private sector jobs and government jobs.” The overall tone of this article is much more critical than that of the coverage in the NYT.
Again, though, we look to FoxNews to blatantly shoot down the positive aspects of the stimulus spending—on the television show, Hannity’s America, Hannity’s story, “Media Skeptical of White House Report on Stimulus Jobs,” focuses solely on the inaccuracy of the White House’s job estimate. By citing the AP news story, Stimulus jobs overcounted nationwide, Hannity highlights several instances where contractors over reported the number of jobs saved or created in their business to the government. His comments are overwhelmingly negative and accusatory; Hannity implies that the government’s spending has been minimally successful in its endeavor to create jobs and that there is no accurate way to actually count the saving or creating of employment opportunities. By claiming that the White House’s figures on this issue are wrong, Hannity instills doubt in his viewers by discounting the efforts of Obama and his administration.
The media’s take on this issue, involving the creation of jobs in the education sector as a result of stimulus spending, is somewhat split; news sources range from supportive to wholly disapproving of the funding and its influences. The less radical media sources, though, seem to take a somewhat cautious approach to coverage of this news… only FoxNews comes out to directly and entirely discredit the employment figures. It seems possible that the media is giving the White House a chance to figure out the numbers and come up with a more reliable system for tallying the changes in employment opportunities across the nation.