2021 Public Service (Smaller Newsroom) Finalists

See all finalists below

Alex Baumhardt, Will Craft, Sabby Robinson, Will Callan, Chris Julin, Catherine Winter, Andy Kruse & Dave Mann
APM Reports

Who Wants to Be a Teacher?

Comments from the Judges:

“A thoroughly engaging listen that goes beyond superficial platitudes about teacher shortages to look at the hows and whys of an issue that’s central to the quality of public education everywhere. The podcast is full of surprising revelations about an industry, for-profit teacher recruitment, that’s been little-scrutinized, until now.

“This is a fascinating story full of twists and revelations that puncture clichés about what causes the teacher shortage and what solutions might address it. Great audio storytelling brings to life data that was carefully researched and analyzed. This is the kind of reporting to which teacher-prep programs, education leaders and policymakers should pay close attention.”

Eric Hoover
The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Most Onerous Form in College Admissions

Comments from the Judges:

“Everything the Chronicle does is always exceptionally well-written and carefully edited, and this piece does not disappoint. Eric Hoover manages to make a potentially snooze-inducing subject — financial aid forms — into compelling reading with real human-interest impact. He injects color and life into his storytelling, and helps illuminate how young adults going through already difficult family issues may have their difficulties amplified by a bureaucratic process that demands quite a lot of cooperation from their parents.”

“Strong writing, thorough reporting, engaging student voices, smart data analysis and surprising revelations make this story package very worthy of public interest. The reporting has already had an impact, with colleges and the College Board changing their practices in part due to its publication.”

Janine Zeitlin
Naples Daily News / The News-Press/ USA TODAY Network-Florida

How the Pandemic Magnified Inequities for Florida’s Migrant Students

Comments from the Judges:

“This is especially exemplary work coming from a small community newspaper in a highly affluent area where migrant families could easily go overlooked and ignored. It’s admirable that the Daily News created Spanish-language versions of its work and engaged in meaningful community outreach to make sure that the reporting had the maximum possible reach and impact. By entrepreneurially building her own database, reporter Janine Zeitlin did what state and local education officials probably should have been doing all along: Identifying whether particularly vulnerable cohorts of students were “falling through the cracks” as the pandemic strained the resources of public schools. The investment that Zeitlin made in building relationships with her sources is obvious, and it pays off in a nuanced and empathetic portrayal of the challenges farmworker families face.”

“This story revealed a significant problem — the disappearance of migrant children from formal education during the pandemic — and explored the complex factors that made learning extra difficult for this underserved population. The writing engaged the reader’s interest through use of detailed personal stories. Excellent use of photography and video to bring readers into the daily lives of the story’s subjects and to elevate their voices. The article features a community of people who are not always easy to connect with or report on, which makes this story all the more impressive.”