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Columns: Releasing Research to the MediaNew Tools Help with Media Outreach
News clips from: WashingtonMichiganColoradoTexasVermontVirginiaFlorida

Making Diversity News

Releasing Research to the Media

Coverage of the President’s Initiative on Race and the introduction of anti-affirmative action measures around the nation have made diversity in higher education more contentious than ever. Perhaps more than at any time in the past, it is critical to generate balanced, accurate news stories about the impact of diversity. Polling data and other new research provide excellent opportunities to generate positive stories about campus diversity in both the print and broadcast media.

For instance, the Florida poll exploring public attitudes toward diversity in higher education generated articles in leading Florida newspapers with headlines such as, “Floridians Back Efforts to Diversify Colleges, Poll Says” in the Miami Herald and “Most Florida Residents Favor Diversity Education, Poll Shows,” in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Several talk radio and public radio stations also reported the results of the poll.

There are many ways to release this kind of data or other new research to your local media:

  • Hold a news conference if the data has a visual element or is particularly newsworthy, and if you have well-known speakers to address the data;

  • Organize a news briefing with key reporters if the research requires a more in-depth and less formal discussion;

  • Arrange an editorial board meeting at your local newspaper with the author of the study, the pollster, and other experts from campus;

  • Book the researchers or pollsters on local talk radio or television news programs; or

  • Mail the poll or research results with a news release to local media and follow-up with phone calls to ask them to generate stories.

Your public information office may be able to provide support.

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New Tools Help with Media Outreach

Have you ever avoided a phone call from a journalist because you didn’t know how to prepare quickly for an interview? Felt uncertain about how to translate your vast knowledge of a topic into the sound bites the media needs? Worried about how you would look or sound on camera?

If so, a new tool developed by the Ford Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative may be useful to you. Some of the nation’s top journalists, leading academicians, and diversity experts are featured in a new media training module.

The training module, Making Diversity News: Media Outreach Tips for the Academic Community, includes a 35-minute videotape and accompanying workbook.

Informed by a series of media training sessions held at colleges and universities around the country over the last few years, the training module is designed to help academics become more comfortable and successful in working with the media. It features interviews with journalists from such outlets as USA Today and NBC News, academic leaders from around the country, and faculty and administrators who share recent experiences working with the media.

The tape and workbook include exercises on how to shape messages, advice on preparing for interviews, tips on crisis communications, and information on how to handle difficult questions. They also offer tips to help you feel comfortable, look your best, and be effective on camera.

The Campus Diversity Initiative is making the media training module available to the academic community free of charge. To order a copy of the training tape and accompanying workbook, send your name, institutional affiliation, and mailing address to cdimaterials@prsolutionsdc.com.

No orders will be processed after October 30, 1998.

Media Watch
News Clips

Washington State

“There is a growing national debate about the best way to achieve diversity . . . Whatever the outcome, we want here to underscore, from our perspective as educators, what is at stake: The quality of the education we are able to give our students and the quality of the leadership they will ultimately give the state. In our view, excellence in both these realms requires diversity on our campuses.” Presidents from Washington’s six public universities stressing the importance of diversity for academic excellence. (“The Educational Case for Higher-Ed Diversity,” Seattle Times, 1 January 1998).

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“The country cannot afford to deprive institutions of higher education of the ability to educate generations of young Americans minority and nonminority in an environment that enables all to flourish, and understand each other, in a truly integrated society.” University of Michigan President Lee Bollinger and Provost Nancy Cantor emphasizing the need for a diverse student body. (“The Educational Importance of Race,” Washington Post, 27 April 1998).

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“The university should be the place most prepared to accept diversity and deal with it. We hope to move beyond dialogue to suggest solutions to problems. I’m a firm believer that when you get people talking to one another, you’ve taken the first major step to achieving things.” Fred Gilbert, vice provost of Colorado State University and a member of the University’s Diversity Awareness Committee, which is sponsoring a series of campus dialogues on race, culture and gender. (“Tackling Diversity: College Forums Get Students, Staff Talking,” Loveland Reporter-Herald, 9 February 1998).

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“Diversity in Texas law schools is critical if we are to produce graduates who can relate to, understand and serve the varied needs of the state’s multicultural population.” Ronald C. Lewis, a lawyer for the Houston-based firm Baker & Botts, on the importance of creative solutions to increasing diversity in Texas law schools, such as free LSAT review classes offered by Kaplan Educational Centers and the Austin-based Texas Appleseed Law Center (“Needy Minorities Get Help in Studying for Law-School Exam,” Houston Chronicle, 18 March 1998).

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“It would not surprise me to learn that some Vermonters have a difficult time understanding why so much time and energy is spent at their state university addressing diversity. After all, only about two percent of people in the state define themselves as members of under-represented groups. The reason is both simple and important. We believe it is our responsibility to offer a high-quality educational experience that prepares our graduates for the challenges they will face in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic society.” University of Vermont President Judith A. Ramaley promoting diversity programs. (“Contending with Accusations of Racial Bias: UVM Strives for Growth, Dialogue,” Burlington Free Press, 11 March 1998).

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“Most Americans would like to see more racial and cultural diversity in schools, government and neighborhoods, says a survey out today from the National Conference for Community and Justice. The group . . . reports that about 56 percent of respondents called for more diversity in their neighborhoods, 67 percent for more diversity in schools and in government, and 72 percent for more diversity in law enforcement.” The poll of 1,014 adults nationwide did not specifically explore public attitudes toward diversity in higher education. (“Diversity Sought,” USA Today, 27 April 1998).

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“Floridians support efforts to diversify college enrollments and activities, believing they’re necessary to prepare students to live and work in modern society, according to a statewide poll commissioned by the Ford Foundation . . . Most disagree with critics of the diversity movement who claim relatively recent emphasis on specific groups such as black and Latino studies is driving wedges in society.” Results from a recent Ford Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative poll exploring Florida voters’ attitudes toward diversity in higher education. (“Poll: Higher Education is the Best Way for Diversity to Work,” Miami Herald, 10 April 1998).

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