Roundtable: Reporting about Research in an Age of Polarized Politics and Fake News
(Politics, Media, and the Policy Process)

Friday, November 9, 2018: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Madison A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Jenni Owen, Office of North Carolina Governor
Speakers:  John Hutchins, MDRC, J.B. Wogan, Governing magazine, Sarah Sparks, Education Week and Ashley A. Smith, Inside Higher Ed

Two parallel phenomena have been developing in the past two decades: (1) an enduring bipartisan commitment to investing in rigorous research, tying program funding to evidence, and improving the utility of data systems to understand whether and how social and education policy works, and (2) a revolution in the news media — the decline of print journalism, the rise of new business models and internet venues for reporting, and the ubiquity of an often-polarizing social media. How have these somewhat contradictory trends influenced each other? How do today’s journalists who cover social and education policy — and a range of other policy issues — address the role of research and evidence in their reporting? How can researchers do a better job of making their work accessible and useful to reporters who in turn can make it relevant to the public at large?

This APPAM roundtable, the tenth in an annual series on evidence-based policymaking, will focus on turning evidence into action by looking at the important role of journalism in highlighting and sharing policy research. Panelists include working journalists (from Education Week, Governing magazine, and outlets to be determined) and a communications director from a policy research firm. The moderator is the policy director for Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina.

This proposal stems from roundtables that Jenni Owen and John Hutchins have organized at each APPAM conference since 2009 on the major growth in the use of evidence in education and social policymaking. Topics thus far have included examining the staying power of evidence-based policymaking during tight budget times; the challenge of “scaling up” evidence-based programs; the politics of evidence-based policymaking in states and localities; and the opportunities presented by successful policymaker-researcher collaborations.