NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ927170
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
How to Paint a Better Portrait of HBCUs
Gasman, Marybeth; Bowman, Nelson, III
Academe, v97 n3 p24-27 May-Jun 2011
An examination of the history of media coverage reveals a pattern of unfair news accounts and shows that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have experienced intense scrutiny from the beginning. The mainstream media's often-negative portrayals of HBCUs mislead the public and can even exacerbate problems some HBCUs already face. Often, HBCUs are depicted as the poor stepchildren of American higher education. As a group, they are portrayed as being unable to manage finances and having weak leadership, unresponsive alumni, and low graduation rates. Some HBCUs have one or more of these attributes, but the same is true of historically white institutions (HWIs). The notion that HBCUs "never measure up" or are a "lost cause" permeates the media narrative, and as a result, the general public, the higher education community, and even some African Americans have negative perceptions of HBCUs. Reporting on institutions that are in trouble is, of course, news, but without stories about their successes, HBCUs tend to be dismissed by mainstream media despite their many accomplishments. In order to depict HBCUs more fairly and accurately, the media should provide context for their stories. In this article, the authors describe ways to paint a better portrait of HBCUs. The authors suggest that HBCUs must stay on top of state and national higher education news and look for ways to contribute stories of interest to media outlets. Overall, they need to be wise to the ways of the media and use an aggressive strategy. They must contribute to a national discourse on "their" institutions and not leave it to the mainstream media to set the agenda.
American Association of University Professors. 1012 Fourteenth Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-424-2973; Tel: 202-737-5900; Fax: 202-737-5526; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A