Guest Column: UA News Coverage Plentiful, But There's Room for More

Guest Column: UA News Coverage Plentiful, But There's Room for More

By Paul G. AllvinUniversity Communications
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Paul G. Allvin, associate vice president for communications
Paul G. Allvin, associate vice president for communications

This just in: News about The University of Arizona is spreading again. The news is good, and it is plentiful.

This truth, of course, runs cross-grain to a running institutional rant that goes something like this:

Why don’t we see more news coverage of the UA? Why aren’t we getting credit for the great work we do here? And why don’t we get as much adoring media exposure as that other university?

Surely you’ve heard this complaint. Perhaps you’ve even repeated it a time or two. If so, I have two responses.

First, I agree to a point, because regardless of how much news coverage we receive, it will never be enough for me. Perhaps that’s why I have the job I have.

Second, we are doing a lot better than you might think. I say “we” because University Communications wouldn’t have much to promote were it not for the brilliant faculty, staff and students on campus doing inspiring and important work every day.

Each month, University Communications posts nearly 100 stories on our Web site, UANews.org, which has logged more than 1 million site visits over the past year. Each weekday, our morning newswire, called UANow, goes out to more than 40,000 readers. And each week, Lo Que Pasa is sent to more than 4,300 UA faculty and staff.

But the best numbers are contained in our news tracking reports. We routinely log thousands of news articles each month that include or feature the UA, not including sports coverage.

Take last month, for instance. July can be a painfully slow news month for the UA, but this July we tracked 6,150 news stories that mentioned or featured the UA or the Phoenix Mission.

It would be easy to conclude that Phoenix Mission news inflated our tracking totals, but they accounted for just one in four news stories featuring or at least including the UA. That means we tracked 4,600 UA stories from around the world that had nothing to do with the Phoenix Mission.

Those 4,600 stories were read, heard or watched by an estimated 185 million people. Of all 6,150 stories, 5,277 were published outside of Arizona, and 700 were published outside the United States.

And for those of you worried that we’re not getting good news coverage in Phoenix, we tracked 275 UA stories published or broadcast in the Phoenix media market in July.

And while the Phoenix Mission is the single largest story of the summer – in fact, it’s the single biggest story in the UA’s 123-year history – it was by no means the only story media picked up. Consider the following stories, all of which ran last week:

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education published a story about the challenges some top universities have retaining top faculty in tight financial times. They interviewed sources from the universities of Georgia, North Carolina at Chapel Hill – and our own Juan Garcia, vice provost for instruction.
  • The Times of India published a story about the work of UA mathematics professor Joseph Watkins, who is working with anthropologists and geneticists to learn how long male dominance might persist from generation to generation.
  • United Press International published a story about Ramzi Touchan of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, who is studying tree rings in Tunisia and Algeria to get a better understanding of long-term drought cycles in northwestern Africa.
  • CBS News produced a story about advances in using the mineral density of hip bones to predict breast cancer in menopausal women. The story included the research of UA public health professor Zhao Chen.

Over the past year, I have spoken to several campus groups about UA news coverage, with the dual goal of busting the myth that the UA isn’t getting any news coverage, and inspiring people to share their newsworthy stories with us to promote.

Without exception, audience members react with incredulity and enthusiasm. “I had no idea” is a refrain that commonly follows my presentation. And so I leave you, the reader, with the same message as I leave to these audiences:

We’re doing fine on news coverage, though we always have room to improve.

UA news is exciting, it is widespread, and it is something you can get delivered to you every day. By signing up for three e-mails, you’ll get the world of UA news in your inbox. It will inspire you, and hopefully it will move you to help stomp the myth that this fine university isn’t earning its share of headlines.

Go now to http://uanews.org/signupfornews, and sign up for UA In the News, a daily digest of news coverage from around the world; UANow, daily top news stories produced by the UA; and Lo Que Pasa, the only campuswide publication featuring news aimed at the internal UA community.

Paul G. Allvin is associate vice president for communications and head of the UA Office of University Communications. He can be reached at pallvin@email.arizona.edu.

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