Hechinger Institute launches education news site

Press release

NONPROFIT EDUCATION NEWS SITE LAUNCHES

New site features in-depth coverage of national education issues.

NEW YORK – A new model of journalism that provides in-depth coverage of national education issues through a website and collaborations with other news organizations launched today. The Hechinger Report goes beyond daily events to explain, analyze, investigate and monitor trends in U.S. education.

The site can be found at http://hechingerreport.org/.

The Report is produced by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, based at Teachers College, Columbia University. Until recently, the Institute was focused on the training of education journalists. Director Richard Lee Colvin has repositioned the nonprofit as a news-gathering organization at a time when traditional newsrooms, decimated by layoffs and budget cuts, have scaled back on education coverage.

“It’s a critical and exciting time for education, and those in journalism have to experiment and adapt to keep up,” said Colvin. “Our job is to help the public understand what’s at stake in education, through investigations, analysis and explanation.” In addition to news and blogs on topics ranging from early childhood to community colleges, the site offers a variety of resources for those who want to learn about education issues in greater depth.

The Report becomes the first major nonprofit news outlet focused exclusively on national and regional education news. It joins the ranks of other nonprofit news ventures, including ProPublica, Kaiser Health News, MinnPost, The Texas Tribune, Colorado Ed News, the New Jersey Spotlight and Voice of San Diego.

“At a time when newspaper budgets are beyond stressed, it’s vital that a new generation of news organizations arise to do the important reporting and analysis we’d otherwise miss. Nonprofit news outlets like The Hechinger Report are going to be a key part of the puzzle, providing deep knowledge and perspective on issues like education policy,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University and a member of the Institute’s advisory committee.

Currently funded by grants from Lumina Foundation for Education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Foundation for Child Development, and The Joyce Foundation, The Report provides an unbiased voice on education issues and is editorially independent.

“Education news, more a state and local story in the U.S. than anywhere else, is clearly one of the areas of reporting in greatest jeopardy,” said Michael Schudson, a professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a member of the Institute’s advisory committee. “Serious efforts to help restore this reporting are needed. So a hearty welcome is in order for The Hechinger Report, which is leveraging both the advantages of Web publishing and the intellectual resources of universities to do exactly that.”

Writers and editors at The Hechinger Report have already collaborated on education coverage and published pieces in The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Monthly, U.S. News & World Report and Education Week.

Since its founding in 1996, the Hechinger Institute has established itself as a leading resource for education journalists, hosting dozens of seminars for nearly 2,000 reporters and editors on everything from teacher quality to high school reform. The Institute also publishes guides on education issues that are used by reporters nationwide, the most recent of which is Math Matters: A Journalist’s Guide (October 2009).

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