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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Neoliberal Ideology and Local News Articles on Higher Education and Covid-19

Blayde Pamperin

Junior, Undecided


News media both reflect and influence the dominant ways people understand the world and their place in it. It can reinforce or challenge ideologies and influence patterns of interaction with places and other people. This study explores local news media articles and their coverage of the UW-System during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. It finds representations in the content of the articles of the tenets of neoliberal ideology through the themes of personal responsibility and schools as a business. This poster will share these findings and explain their relationship to neoliberalism, which creates and reinforces inequality.

Project Background 

I was interested in this project because, for one, I’ve always been interested in the things that go unsaid in our society. I like trying to figure these things out. Secondly, the neoliberalization of education is important to me personally as a college student. I thought it would be intersting to analyse these texts to see the underlying messages of news media. Since the things published in news media helps to make and shape public perception of society, and by extension, society itself; it is important to regconize the messaging in news articles.

What Do You Think? 

We encourage you to leave a respectful note, thought or comment with the presenter(s) below as a means of engaging with them. Your responses are appreciated and the presenter(s) will be participating in the conversation. 


  1. Olivia Basiliere

    I agree with the point of your presentation! I love reading research on the social consequences of political ideologies reinforced by media capitals (the internet, the news, T.V, etc). Always question what you are reading, and always be informed on their prerogative!

  2. Douglas Haynes

    This is such an important topic that you frame in clear and thoughtful ways! It’s so encouraging to see students thinking critically about how the college experience is represented in the media.

  3. Steve Sheehan

    This is an astute analysis and interpretation. I think “neoliberalism” is an excellent context and interpretive model for analyzing the discourse around Covid and the UW System.

    I’ve lived in the state and worked in the system for close to 20 years now. I’ve followed media coverage of the system whenever I can find it, often with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I would hypothesize if that you were to drop “Covid” from your search and just look up articles on the UW System, you might find the same prevalence of neoliberal language.

    • Michelle Delorey

      Very thought provoking and very well done!

    • Blayde Pamperin

      Thank you for your response! I agree that neoliberal language would be prevelent in non-Covid related articles. In fact, the original scope of this project (in addition to the response to Covid-19) was to examine articles about the dissolution of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Govenor Walker’s attempt to change the UW mission statement. As Covid became more and more prevalent, I had to drop the other two and only focus on UW’s response to Covid.

  4. Elizabeth Wade-Sirabian

    Thank you for conducting this research and for your fascinating analysis!


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