First Prize

Beat Reporting (Small Newsroom)

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Jon Marcus on the Higher Education Beat

Jon Marcus
The Hechinger Report


About the Entry

The Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus looks behind the headlines about coronavirus tests and hand sanitizer, revealing systemic issues in higher education that preceded and will long outlast this turbulent year. Marcus’ reporting disputes the narratives universities and colleges rely on the public to believe. 

Comments from the Judges

“In a crowded coverage space, each of these stories found a different angle and offered new insight. They’re so thoroughly reported and well sourced, seamlessly incorporating students’ voices and experiences, alongside research, data and experts’ commentary. “

“Jon’s stories feel fresh and insightful, explaining important but often counterintuitive and under-explored trends. He’s adept at using data, research, and memorable quotes to support his assertions; the conclusions he draws feel authoritative and earned. “ 


Education in Minnesota’s Immigrant and Refugee Communities
Becky Z. Dernbach
Sahan Journal

Comment from the judges: “Dernbach’s stories are well-framed; they draw readers in and make the stakes of the issue clear. She applies rigorous reporting to get multiple perspectives and explain the root causes of problems, whether it’s a teacher of color losing her job or first-generation college students struggling to complete college applications.”

Beat reporting – Student Wellness and Special Education
Carolyn Jones

Comment from the judges: “Jones tells important stories about how the most vulnerable students are weathering the pandemic and how schools are going to great lengths to meet their needs. She features a rich variety of sources in her stories, including parents and students who speak directly about their experiences.”