The Education Writers Association (EWA) is a nonprofit,
professional organization of journalists and other writers who
cover education. Established in 1947, today EWA has more than
3,000 members who participate in programs and services designed
to improve their journalistic skills and their knowledge of the
Leaders of the EWA Board of
Directors and staff undertook a strategic planning process in
Fall 2015 for a number of reasons, including:
- Their existing, high-level plan had run its course.
- They wanted to ensure that EWA remains relevant for its
members, responds to the broadening universe of education news
writers, and sustains its financial and organizational health.
- They wanted to clarify who they serve, how they can better
serve their key constituencies and how to keep the organization
healthy and relevant.
- They saw opportunities to better serve EWA members and the
public at large.
- They were excited about working closely together to develop a
new plan to address the dramatic shifts in EWA’s operating
During the planning process, EWA’s Board defined a new vision,
mission and set of values for the organization. These
foundational elements focus on the ability of effective education
journalism to help improve education and create a more informed
and participatory society. EWA’s new five-year goals build on the
success of current core programs and focus on deepening members’
engagement, advocating for more education journalism, and
diversifying income streams.
Together, these goals will enable EWA to advance its mission to
“strengthen the community of education writers and improve the
quality of education coverage to better inform the public.”
Environment and Context
The planning process was informed by stakeholder interviews and
surveys, trend analysis, and the State of
the Education Beat (SOTB) report released in May 2016. Key
information from those sources that underpin the new strategic
- Stakeholders think EWA is doing an excellent job
achieving its mission, delivering high-quality programs,
impacting the field, and employing strong, talented staff.
- EWA is well regarded for its success in creating a
community. Stakeholders often cite EWA’s convening
function and its strong network of education journalists as a key
EWA’s membership has grown exponentially since
EWA has a solid financial cushion, with
increasing net assets. It is well supported by an increasingly
diverse funder base.
- The changing media landscape represents a
top challenge for EWA and its members.
- Stakeholders believe the lack of investment in mainstream
education journalism and the rise of the individual and the think
tank journalist has led to a need to redefine/broaden
EWA’s constituency. The most common future opportunities
discussed by stakeholders were expanding and diversifying
Young education journalists are confident about the
field. SOTB reported that 79 percent of respondents
say education is a career path they are committed to pursuing.
Millennial education journalists have substantially higher
confidence levels than their older peers, a finding that bodes
well for the future of the field and the future of EWA.
Education-focused news staffs are largely holding
steady. SOTB revealed a mixed picture when it comes to
the size of news staffs in education-focused outlets. Although
32 percent of respondents said their education news staffs had
declined over the past two years, 27 percent report growth and
41 percent say the size didn’t change. Education-focused news
outlets were more likely to indicate growth than
Setting Direction, 2016 and Beyond
Using the operating environment and current state as its guide,
the Board established a fresh vision, an updated mission, and set
of organizational values for EWA.
EWA’s long-term vision is shaped by its collective belief that:
- Excellent education journalism creates more informed citizens
- Informed citizens and leaders make better decisions about our
country’s education system;
- Better decisions lead to improved student outcomes and a more
inclusive, informed, participatory society.
EWA believes high-quality education journalism plays a key role
in helping to improve education. Excellence in education
journalism relies on strengthening the knowledge and skills of
education writers, supporting them in their work, and raising the
prominence of the education beat.
High-quality journalism creates a more informed and participatory
public, which strengthens education for all.
EWA’s mission is to strengthen the community of education writers
and improve the quality of education coverage to better inform
- EWA helps our members create the highest-quality coverage.
This focus on quality is essential for the work to result in
greater awareness and a more participatory public.
- EWA builds community by fostering connections among
professionals covering education and encourages them to learn
together, share different perspectives, and maintain the highest
standards of journalism.
- EWA believes strongly in upholding professionalism in
education journalism. This includes being fair, accurate,
transparent, and independent in covering education issues.
- EWA embraces and advocates for a diversity of education
writers, a diversity of issues, and a diversity of perspectives.
We continue to strive to serve an increasingly diverse and broad
range of education content generators.
Strategic Plan Overview
The Future: Ten Years Out
To launch the planning process, EWA Board members engaged in a
creative visioning exercise in which they described the impact
EWA could have by 2025. Ten years from now, they envisioned EWA
as helping to inform a critical mass of high-quality journalism
that acted as an “engine of improvement” for education.
Journalism produced by EWA members was having a significant
effect on the public because they were equipped with strong
skills and a comprehensive body of information. Education
decision-makers were more knowledgeable because they were armed
with better data and information. Journalism influenced by EWA’s
programs was setting the national agenda. EWA was playing a role
in increasing equity and inclusion. Its awards were highly sought
after. Board members were excited by the idea that EWA’s programs
and members could not only help define the future of education
journalism but also help improve education across the nation.
The Next Five Years: 2017 – 2021 Strategic Goals for EWA
The board and staff identified the following four strategic goals
to move the organization toward the desired impacts envisioned by
2025. The goals are aligned with the new vision and mission
statements, and informed by current internal and external
Over the next five years, EWA will:
- Increase the skills and knowledge of members to cover the
education beat effectively.
- Attract new members and deepen membership engagement among
key segments of education news content producers.
- Advocate for the importance of education journalism and
increase the prominence and visibility of effective, high-quality
- Ensure organizational and financial health to sustain