Newspapers and Higher Education p.

By: John Consoli Radcliffe College president speaks of common traditions and contemporary interests; stresses need for a diverse work force
THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY and higher education have common traditions and contemporary interests, Radcliffe College president Linda Wilson told attendees of the annual Newspaper Association of America convention in Boston last week.
Wilson particularly called on publishers to work toward developing a diverse work force.
"We share a commitment to seeking the truth and transmitting what we have learned to the public," Wilson said. "The institutions we represent ? newspapers, colleges and universities ? play vital roles in helping to create and maintain the enlightened leadership and informed public that are necessary to make democracies work."
The freedom to inquire and publish without government restriction is "as important to us as it is to you," she continued.
"Pluralism in higher education has served America well for many years, and I suspect the same is true for the newspaper industry.
"Clearly, the newspaper industry and institutions like Radcliffe have a common interest in enlightening the public debate on important societal issues and, thereby, influencing public policy itself. Yet, for the most part, we go our separate ways ? sometimes on parallel tracks but too often in difference directions.
"What is often missing, it seems to me, is a two-way link that can better enable scholars who are engaged in policy-relevant research to learn from the experience and success of the news media."
Wilson said that premise has two parts. First, that the print and broadcast media are more closely attuned to the public opinion than are universities. Second, that, as a consequence, scholars interested in public policy and social change can improve their performance by listening to what journalists have to say and learning some of the techniques they use.
What is missing, she said, is the opportunity for policy-makers, grassroots organizations and the public to interact with the scholars and the media.
"As we develop our public policy initiative at Radcliffe, we want to explore these multiple avenues ? not to homogenize, but to engage in a richer, deeper public debate and to extend Thomas Jefferson's ideal for a free press and an informed and literate citizenry to include all of the people," Wilson said.
"I look forward to a continuing and expanding dialogue between the news media and the academy, and I hope that it includes another meeting of your association in Cambridge in the not-to-distant future."


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