Reporter or Editor Chicago Reporter
Chalkbeat, the growing nonprofit news organization telling the story of education in America, is seeking a reporter to join our Chicago team.
This is a critical moment to cover the education beat in Chicago. Before COVID-19, the country’s third largest school district was nationally recognized for the pace of its academic growth, even as families left the city and tensions simmered with its powerful teachers union. The pandemic forced schools into remote learning into remote learning and brought those tensions to the forefront.
It also interrupted Chicago schools chief Janice Jackson’s efforts to deliver on an ambitious, five-year equity plan that prioritizes financial stability and sets higher achievement goals for the Black and Latino students who make up the majority of its enrollment.
We are closely following where the school district goes from here and how it plans to deliver on Jackson’s goals. There’s a lot to write about as the public school district eyes a full-time fall reopening, tries to recoup learning lost during a pandemic, embarks on efforts to re-engage students who’ve gone missing from their classrooms, and reexamines policies that have sustained disparities in course offerings, school funding, and even quality of gyms and playgrounds in a historically segregated city.
To capture the story here requires hyperlocal reporting down to the individual classroom and neighborhood. The job is fast-paced and newsy — but also requires sustained audience engagement to build sources and relationships in school communities.
This position is based in Chicago and will report to Chalkbeat’s Chicago bureau chief.
Who are you?
You are committed to local journalism and respect the transformative power of a good story. You prize accountability reporting and data but also understand it’s important to prioritize on-the-ground perspectives from students, families, and teachers in the whirl of the policy debate.
You can move fast when you need to and are hungry to break news. You’re also a strong beat reporter who can see the bigger picture and can write a range of stories. You’re not afraid to analyze and inform the conversation, or to call out wrongdoing, or to spend an afternoon talking to people. You value data but not over the human experience. Most importantly, you can serve as a guide for our readers—school personnel, education insiders, parents, students, and curious citizens—in explaining how schools in the city work. And you’re not afraid to challenge the dominant narrative.
We’re looking for a reporter who can hit the ground running on a beat and who can understand the nuances of Chicago.
What background and skills do you have?:
- At least five years of reporting experience covering education, government, or public policy
- Familiarity and experience with social media
- Comfort or experience working with data, research, and reports
- Interest in accountability reporting and investigative reporting
- Interest or experience with reader engagement, including finding creative ways to connect with a diverse set of readers and use those efforts to inform our reporting
- Knowledge of early childhood education, K-12 education, pathways to college, and state and city policy issues
- Experience with building sources and generating story ideas
- The ability to write clearly, cleanly, and on deadline for quick-take, daily and longer-form stories
- A knack for interviewing students and their families. You’re not afraid to pick up the phone or approach someone new and begin a conversation.
- A firm grasp of AP style and proper grammar
- The ability to accept feedback and use it to grow
- A passion for education and the future of Chicago and its children
- Ability to report in Spanish is a plus
Note: We know that many strong candidates will not have all the skills we list. That’s OK. What else do you bring to the table? Please tell us!
What will you be responsible for?
- You’ll be responsible for reporting and writing news stories
- You’ll also conceive and execute more in-depth stories that help people understand how breaking news connects to the big picture and that hold decision-makers accountable.
- You’ll collaborate with our data/visuals team as Chalkbeat comes up with innovative ways to present news and distribute stories.
- You’ll communicate and build relationships with readers and key players in the local community through our regular morning newsletters, social media posts, reporting assignments, and Chalkbeat events.
We offer a flexible work environment, with shared office space in Chicago’s Loop and the ability to work from home when appropriate. (We are working remotely now through the pandemic).
This is a full-time position with benefits. Chalkbeat offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and a generous benefits package, including a paid winter recess.
Chalkbeat is the nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. We are mission-driven journalists who believe that an independent local press is vital to ensuring that education improves. Currently in seven locations and growing, we seek to provide deep local coverage of education policy and practice that informs decisions and actions, leading to better schools. Read more about our mission and values.