Role of the Clarion-Ledger in the Adoption of the 1982 Education Reform Act

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This monograph examines the role of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger in the adoption of the landmark 1982 Education Reform Act by the Mississippi State Legislature. The Ledger was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for public service for its massive coverage of a special legislative session that enacted significant educational reforms in Mississippi.


“Dr. Kathleen Woodruff Wickham’s examination of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s crusade for education reform in Mississippi that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for public service is not only a detailed, informative addition to journalism scholarship but part of the coming-of-age story of the South ... Scholars should find Wickham’s work valuable as they debate the extent to which journalists should become participants and whether change can be effected without such saturation coverage. And at a time when Pulitzers are being criticized as too often the province of large newsrooms with significant resources, Wickham’s monograph reminds us that vision and dedication can equalize that playing field.” - Doug Fisher, Instructor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina

Dr. Wickham successfully uncovers the machinery that brought the stars into this unlikely alignment for the Clarion-Ledger. She does this by depicting the key components of the machinery and then letting the reader discover how pieces fit and impel one another. ... The author employs a number of methodologies, including a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the Clarion-Ledger’s series, and a brutal statistical depiction of the state’s ongoing struggles to roll its rock up from the bottom of the mountain.” - Professor Wilson Lowry, Department of Journalism, The University of Alabama

Table of Contents

Foreword by Burnis Morris
1 The Hederman Family Legacy
2 Rea Hederman Turns Away the Past
3 Charles Overby Sets a New Agenda
4 The Push for Reform
5 Analysis of Pulitzer Prize Entry
6 The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service
Appendix A: Chronology
Appendix B: Codebook
Appendix C: Miracle in Mississippi: The historic for landmark education reforms as reported in the Clarion-Ledger, May 7, 1983 special report (reprinted with permission of the Clarion-Ledger)

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