National Press Club

Panel to discuss media’s role in the higher education scandal

August 8, 2019 | By Carmen Russell-Sluchansky |

The National Press Club Events Committee will present “Higher Ed at a Crossroads: What role does the media play in the crisis?” on Thursday, September 5. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. when a light breakfast will be served. The panel will start at 9 a.m.

The worst admissions scandal in the history of higher education has resulted in dozens of indictments and embarrassment for many of the nation’s most prestigious institutions. The perceived value of an elite education has skyrocketed to the point that parents will spend millions on gifts and contributions to ensure a place for their children. Many, it seems, are even willing to break the law to get their university-bound children into high-ranking schools. This has taken place while the costs of higher education has been increasing several times faster than wages in recent years, making it less and less available to the average American.

Analysts and the media have asked who is to blame for the latest scandal: parents, coaches, admissions officials, or even the government? However, the media itself may deserve inspection, as well.

Annual college guides compiled and published by national media outlets themselves have bolstered the image of higher education “brands.” The panel will ask whether these ratings have perverted the purpose and goals of higher education with their influential reports.

How do these rankings work and how do they differ from each other? Are there better ways to determine which colleges are best serving the needs of their students and the nation as a whole?

Joining the panel will be Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings, Kaitlin Mulhere, reporter/special projects editor for MONEY, and Mark Solheim, editor of Kiplinger’s Best College Values. Jamaal Abdul-Alim, education editor for The Conversation, will moderate.