2019 EWA National Seminar
Driven by changing student demographics and demands from employers, colleges are experimenting with new, more flexible and affordable bachelors’ degrees, a panel of higher education leaders and experts told journalists at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar.
Colleges are trying boot camps, competency-based education, credit for prior learning, and other strategies to lower costs, speed up and improve the value of bachelors’ degrees.
In 2018, Meghan Irons and her colleagues at the Boston Globe set out to document a troubling paradox: Their city is famous for its world-class universities, but working-class Bostonians were largely failing to thrive there and move up the economic ladder.
Most journalists covering universities focus on undergraduate programs, even though, in many cases, the graduate student population is larger and has a bigger impact on the school’s financial health. So graduate schools can be a trove of fresh, under-covered story ideas, according to graduate student representatives and researchers who spoke at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar.
After a 10-year-old boy died by suicide in the middle of doing his chores, reporter Allison Ross was tapped to interview his grieving mother.
Ross struggled with how to share the Louisville family’s story sensitively, without being sensational in her coverage for the Courier-Journal newspaper.
School safety is an important part of every education journalist’s beat, as states and districts invest billions in preventative measures, including those intended to stop the next campus shooting.
But how much of those investments are reactions to public perceptions about potential risks rather than grounded in best practices? And what questions should reporters ask when it comes to not just the financial costs but also the potential emotional toll such efforts take on students and staff?
It’s probably every reporter’s worst nightmare: Your co-worker rushes over from the police scanner and blurts out, “Active shooter at Such-and-Such School.”
When that happened to South Florida Sun-Sentinel education reporter Scott Travis on Valentine’s Day 2018, “I headed there hoping more than anything that this was a false alarm,” he told EWA seminar attendees May 6. But he was headed to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Mental health can influence all sorts of basic issues in education, from test scores to attendance and school discipline. Yet it’s a topic that education journalists often overlook.
That was the message of Steve Drummond, education editor and an executive producer at NPR, who moderated the panel, “Mental Health: A Hidden Crisis in Schools?” at this year’s EWA national conference. NPR chronicled the problem in a 2016 package called “A Silent Epidemic; The Mental Health Crisis in Our Schools.”
A School Where Career Training and Academics Go Hand in Hand
Popular magnet prepares youths for jobs in health sciences, plumbing and more
Leonard Ferguson is having the last laugh. A senior at the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science in Catonsville, Maryland, he’s on track to graduate this spring with both a good job and his continuing education paid for.
Many instructors still use traditional-style lectures despite growing scientific evidence that less-passive approaches are more effective in building students’ skills and knowledge. At the Education Writers Association 2019 National Seminar, Harvard professor Eric Mazur demonstrated to journalists how active engagement – both inside and outside the classroom – stimulates higher-order thinking and motivates students to learn.
Reporters can use Facebook to create communities, start conversations, find story tips and sources, and build their individual brands. Lynn Walsh, a veteran reporter, walked journalists through ways to make the most of Facebook at the Education Writers Association’s 2019 National Seminar in Baltimore
Examples of Americans — from prominent political and college leaders to teenagers – making tone-deaf or racist comments continue to make headlines in 2019. Journalists covering such incidents, or just reporting on people from different backgrounds, also need to be vigilant against committing their own faux pas. Deadline pressure, space constraints and implicit biases or lack of knowledge of other cultures can cause journalists to inadvertently make a hurtful statement.
Governors across the country are pledging to pump billions of dollars into early childhood education – historic investments that could have a far-reaching impact on the lives of young people.
But their success will depend on how well states implement those initiatives and the scope and quality of the programs put in place, advocates said during the Education Writers Association’s annual conference this month. And it will be up to journalists, the speakers said, to hold those states accountable.
Want to tell a gripping tale? Be prepared to be patient — and really listen — when you do the reporting for your story.
That’s what Chalkbeat Chicago education reporter Adeshina Emmanuel said as he spoke to a room full of education reporters in the EWA session “How I Did The Story, K-12,” describing his method for a story about a 16-year-old Chicago student who could not read.
What students learn every day in their classes is the core of the K-12 enterprise. And yet, unless it’s part of a really terrible lesson that goes viral, content is rarely the focal point for education news coverage.
As curriculum rises on policymakers’ agendas, it should also be a focus of the nation’s education reporters, agreed panelists at the Education Writers Association’s 72nd annual conference in Baltimore this month.
Top 10 Higher Education Story Ideas for 2019-20
Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik says admissions, free speech and rising graduation rates will make headlines.
While the hottest higher education story of early 2019 involved celebrities trying to bribe their kids’ way into elite colleges, many other important stories are likely to make news in the 2019-20 academic year, according to Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed.
The veteran higher education journalist and editor listed the 10 topics he thinks every higher education reporter should be ready to cover in the coming months.
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.