You know about Inside Higher Ed, right?

by Eszter Hargittai on February 23, 2009

One of the most consistent email/news habits of my everydays is that I go through the Daily Update message from Inside Higher Ed, the free Web publication about higher education. I have been doing this for a few years now so I tend to assume that even if not everyone in academia reads IHE as religiously as I do, certainly everybody knows about it. Not true though, it turns out, based on several experiences, and thus this blog post. I’m well aware that Henry posted about it here four years ago (in fact, that may well be how I learned about it back then) and I know that we make references to articles in it regularly. Nonetheless, since they just did a major redesign of the site with some added features, I thought it was a good time to mention it again.

IHE is sort of like the Chronicle of Higher Education (which most people in academia do know about), but it’s fully free and much more user friendly. I used to read the Chronicle in graduate school and then even signed up for a paid subscription when I became a faculty member. However, as tends to be the case, I almost never visit Web sites that don’t let me set my own username. Moreover, back then, the Chronicle insisted on sending out a hard-copy of the publication. Worse, it was always in a plastic bag so recycling wasn’t a simple movement from mailbox to recycling bin, rather, it required dealing with the plastic packaging. Finally, and especially relevant to bloggers, it was complicated to link to articles in the Chronicle, because many required subscription and login, although it wasn’t always clear which ones. The Chronicle may have improved some of its services since, but it doesn’t really matter to me anymore, because in the meantime I’ve completely switched over to IHE. (This is not to say that I don’t read articles in the Chronicle anymore. I do if someone points me to one, but I don’t check its contents regularly.)

If you haven’t yet, go check out Inside Higher Ed. I’ve found their daily emails especially helpful in staying in touch with what’s going on in higher education. New features include advice columns as well as easier ways of sharing individual articles through various online services.

For those curious, I have no particular affiliation with IHE other than having published a piece on email communication there once a few years ago. I’ve met editor and co-founder Scott Jaschik a few times at conferences, he’s full of great ideas and very open to feedback about the publication.



jd 02.23.09 at 6:46 pm

It’s a great site. In addition to the news, there are a number of very clued-in columnists. I particularly enjoy Scott McLemee’s essays. As a bonus, IHE has some of the most amusing trolls on the internet.


ja 02.23.09 at 9:49 pm

I’ve scrapped the Chronicle for IHE as well. Does anyone know if they’re actually making money? Chronicle still seems to be the default spot for job postings, but I hope the switch to IHE continues.


catherine liu 02.24.09 at 1:30 am

i like inside higher ed as well! glad you are spreading the word!


Barry 02.24.09 at 2:00 am

Thanks, Eszter! I didn’t realize that IHE was free.


Donald A. Coffin 02.24.09 at 2:10 am

I like IHE a lot, but I also continue my subscription to CHE. I thinks CHE’s news coverage is
a whole lot better, which is, I think, a consequence of having a staff whose job it is
to report (not at all clear that IHE does the same; in fact, based on what looks like a
revenue-free operation, very difficult for IHE to do the same). Not that the issues don’t
show up on IHE, they just (seem to me to) show up largely in opinion pieces or
pieces with a definite point of view.


Kenny Easwaran 02.24.09 at 3:12 am

When IHE started, I read fairly regularly for a while, but because of the infuriating trolls in the comments, I decided to quit, and realized that I became a lot happier as a result. Is there some way to read it with the comments turned off?


Eszter Hargittai 02.24.09 at 3:16 am

Donald, no doubt CHE has a much bigger staff and more resources. But I don’t know if their reporting is necessarily better on the whole. (I’ve seen lower quality material in both, just like both have good writing.)

Kenny, I recommend not scrolling down.:)


Phil 02.24.09 at 1:21 pm

Looks great – we need a British version. (Said regretfully as well as enthusiastically – I think the worlds are different enough that we really do need a British version.)

Shameless bleg – anything in there about how to sell out the hardback edition of a book that could sell in paperback (but not in hardback)? I’m surely not the first person to have been in this position.


AcademicLurker 02.24.09 at 1:33 pm

“As a bonus, IHE has some of the most amusing trolls on the internet.”

Yeah, IHE has a pretty dedicated crew of trolls.

While I can understand, in general, why there is some resentment against academia, I’m still amazed at people who are driven to frothing rage by the very idea that professors exist.

I nearly ruined a perfectly good keyboard when I read one commenter explain that tuition increases are driven by the “opulent lifestyles” of faculty members.


TImothy Burke 02.24.09 at 2:21 pm

The commentariat at IHE is pretty grim, but the main content is great.


Scott McLemee 02.24.09 at 7:18 pm

Home from the IHE office to have lunch, I find it intriguing to learn from David Coffin (#6) that my employer is “a revenue-free operation” with no reporting staff that mainly offers opinion pieces and can’t compete with the Chronicle‘s news coverage.

Having worked at both places, I am not without bias — but also not without information. Here is a bit of both.

The Chron has a much larger staff than IHE, and far more money. This news market was, for decades, more or less monopolistic. That is no longer the case, but the accumulation of capital makes for a David-and-Goliath type situation. Still, the one with the slingshot is doing pretty well. Over the past four years, CHE has been losing subscribers and laying people off, while IHE has grown on both counts at a very robust clip. As news-consumption habits change, this is likely to continue.

Any impression that IHE is “revenue free” must rest on the charming notion that all those ads (for TIAA CREF, say, or the listings for university jobs) are given away for free, like the links on a blogroll. Such is not in fact the case. A few months ago, IHE moved into a much larger office space. That was not because the landlord enjoys my column.

The vast majority of articles appearing at IHE each day consists of traditional journalistic coverage (unlike my own feuilletonage) by people who have reported for newspapers. They do not write opinion pieces. Some of them are so old-school that they would probably break out in a rash at the thought. You hear them on the phone, interviewing people about budgets and scandals and whatnot — exactly like in the newsroom at the Chronicle.

One place where nobody thinks Inside Higher Ed is lagging behind in covering the news is the Chronicle itself. IHE frequently beats the Chron on stories — a situation that has made for a certain amount of excitement there, or so one hears.

IHE is now well established and keeps growing. The website redesign is only the most visible aspect of this. Of course there are differences between the Chron and IHE, even apart from the absolute one regarding expense. (Nearly all Chronicle articles are behind a pay wall; none is at IHE.) The most important difference comes down to audience. The Chronicle has always been edited with an eye primarily — when not exclusively — to university administrators. Inside Higher Ed has a rather broader readership, around 10 percent of which consists of people pursuing doctorates.

Finally, about the commentators….Yes, “grim” is the word, at times. But I like to think the site gives them a hobby, whereas they might otherwise be joining the militia or hording pieces of aluminum foil.


Jonathan Dresner 02.25.09 at 2:41 am

As a longtime reader of, and ocassional commenter at, IHE, I’d second the strong recommendation. It’s true that the comments often run a very predictable line — especially on issues of assessment and sports — there are some useful bits in there as well, and it’s always a pleasure when the subject of an article shows up to supplement the coverage! Even the predictable arguments can be useful illustrations of the state of debate on a subject.

I’ve never read CHE except for the odd perusal of the front page in administrators’ offices, or when free pieces have been linked. It’s like the Wall Street Journal: someone needs this information, but it’s not me.


Michael Bérubé 02.25.09 at 9:59 pm

Finally, about the commentators….Yes, “grim” is the word, at times. But I like to think the site gives them a hobby, whereas they might otherwise be joining the militia or hording pieces of aluminum foil.

Ah, yes, the flypaper theory. My own theory, which complements rather than competes with Scott’s, is that Horowitz has them all typing away 14 hrs/day in a windowless room in Dayton, Ohio, and that they get paid $5 for every three comments. I hope our new Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, will look into this.


fred lapides 02.28.09 at 4:02 am

I have been going to that site regularly and at times post at my site from theirs. What I liked about Chronicle of Higher Ed: the insert. Filled with good reading. But for reasons beyond me they do not sell just that section, or make it available for a charge on the Net. No longer in academia, I have no interest in subscribing to the full journal just to be able to get the fine insert. And IHE, because daily, has nothing remotely like the insert.

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