Building an Education Media Ecosystem in Chicago

by Cornelia Grumman, Program Director, Education

Too many compelling education stories in the Chicago area are simply not getting told. Stressed, constricted newsrooms have increasingly limited resources. Expertise in complex issue areas such as early education is in limited supply. Meanwhile, students, educators, and families stand at the center of sweeping changes that carry profound implications for our communities and Illinois’ future. Residents, thought leaders and policymakers need to hear – and be informed by – compelling accounts of what is happening inside classrooms, higher education institutions and community early learning centers, and how those stories illustrate larger systemic issues or trends.

To help boost understanding of education issues, philanthropic, education and journalism leaders have come together to successfully attract Chalkbeat, an award-winning education news organization, to Chicago. Chicago, along with Newark, N.J., was selected by Chalkbeat’s national board as the next city to set up a news bureau.

Chalkbeat works in partnership with existing media to complement and bolster education news reporting. Its journalists will scrutinize and explain education policy and practice to inform decisions that result in better outcomes for children and families, especially those in living in communities of concentrated poverty.

Chalkbeat expects to officially open a mid-sized bureau of three to four journalists in Chicago in early 2018. Chicago joins six other bureaus whose regions are benefiting from the online media model’s innovative, sophisticated, and incisive education news coverage. These cities include: New York, Denver, Detroit, Tennessee, and Indianapolis.


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