Blog: The Educated Reporter
Covering How ‘Varsity Blues’ Affects College Admissions
Experts suggest following up with investigations into large inequities and sports recruiting.
The “Varsity Blues” scandal involved a small group of wealthy families using bribes and other tactics to gain admissions to selective colleges. But it also illuminated broader admissions problems – particularly those involving income disparities – that should be examined by education reporters, according to experts who spoke at the 2019 Education Writers Association seminar in Baltimore.
Six Story Ideas for Covering Race on Campus
College student body diversity, recruiting practices and history
Journalists who want to better cover the reality of the racial environment on college campuses should broaden their focus beyond protests against Confederate statues or controversies over yearbook pictures, advised a group of researchers, educators and veteran journalists gathered at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar in Baltimore.
Tips on Covering Race Issues Responsibly
Ask followup questions, add context and use the "R" word carefully.
When covering race issues, journalists can get things things very right, or very wrong. From their story choices, to the context they add and the words they use, opportunities — and risks — abound. That’s especially true for reporters covering schools and colleges, which have been ground zero for some of the most important racial incidents and news stories of the recent past.
Lessons From the Higher Ed Beat
David Jesse of Detroit Free Press wins top EWA Award for coverage of MSU, Larry Nassar scandal
(EWA Radio: Episode 206)
Reporter David Jesse’s scoops went so deep in covering the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal at Michigan State University that some campus officials wondered if he was being cc’ed on internal emails. Nassar, a physician affiliated with MSU’s athletics program, was sentenced to 70 years in prison for sexually abusing students who were his patients at the campus clinic, as well as members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team. The university’s president also resigned in the wake of the fallout. Jesse, who’s been covering higher education at the Detroit Free Press for nearly a decade, won the Moskowitz Prize in this year’s EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.
‘An Ethical Obligation to Care’ When Reporting
'I try to write like people's lives depend on my words,' says Jenny Abamu.
While working as a journalist in New York City at the start of her career, Jenny Abamu experienced firsthand one of the challenges of daily breaking news coverage in a huge media market. Her job, at the television station NY1, required quickly moving from one assignment to the next, even on the same day.
At times she felt like part of the “media herd” chasing shiny objects, Abamu recalled recently to EWA. She felt she moved on from stories that deserved more depth and context.
“I felt like I was slipping in and out of people’s lives,” she said.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos defended her education agenda in front of hundreds of education reporters on Monday, as she discussed efforts to expand school choice and the reversal of policies and guidance set forth by the Obama administration on student discipline, special education, and student loan forgiveness.
Is New York City’s Elite High School Exam Unfair?
Officials, equity advocates, and families battle over entrance test for specialized high schools
(EWA Radio: Episode 198)
New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio wants to scrap the entrance exam that determines whether students gain admission to eight specialized public high schools in the city. The move, intended to make the schools more diverse, has some equity advocates cheering. But a large number of students and families – including a coalition of Asian-Americans parents who have mounted a lawsuit — are pushing back about the proposed changes for the elite schools, saying it will squeeze out the most talented kids. Christina Veiga of Chalkbeat New York discusses the equity challenges facing the nation’s largest district, why Asian-American families are mounting a lawsuit to block DeBlasio’s plans, and how early childhood education and gifted and talented programs fit into schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s plans to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the city’s vast network of public schools. Also, Veiga offers advice for journalists on covering diverse campus communities, and story ideas to consider when reporting on issues related to race and inequities in educational opportunities.
‘Surrounded’: Risky Routes for Los Angeles Students
A Los Angeles Times project examines dangerous commutes for kids in the nation’s second-largest school district
(EWA Radio: Episode 205)
For many Los Angeles students, getting to and from class can be a risky proposition, as they navigate neighborhoods with high rates of homicides. In a new project, education reporter Sonali Kohli crunched the data and found surprising examples where the reality contradicted public perceptions of the “most dangerous” schools.
Fresh Angles on Student Loan Stories: Phones and Bills
Lawsuits and "Next Generation" reforms are likely to generate headlines.
Journalists looking for new angles on the click-grabbing topic of student loans should consider digging into legal and political battles over who answers the phones when borrowers call with questions, and how the bills are collected, experts told reporters at recent Education Writers Association event in Washington, D.C.
The Story Behind the Sun Sentinel’s ‘Parkland’ Pulitzer Prize
Reporters discuss covering Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and its aftermath, holding officials accountable, and lessons learned
(EWA Radio: Episode 204)
Heartbreaking. Frightening. Infuriating. All those words apply to the remarkable coverage by the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The newspaper’s reporting since the February 2018 killings earned journalism’s top award this year, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The newspaper pushed back on stonewalling by district leadership and public safety officials to uncover missed opportunities that might have mitigated — or even prevented — the school shooting that left 17 people dead and dozens more seriously injured.
Is Your Community’s “Free College” Program “Bait and Switch”?
By asking the five Ws, journalists can identify the fine print in College Promise programs.
“Free college” is an increasingly popular rallying cry for politicians. There are now more than 200 programs that seek to deliver on that promise around the country, and more being proposed nearly every month.
April 20th marks a somber milestone: two decades since what author Dave Cullen has called the first school shooting to be televised.
The ongoing debate over how to implement preventative measures without turning schoolhouses into fortresses means education reporters will continue to focus on this seminal tragedy and its ripple effects long after the anniversary date passes.