Reporter or Editor Chicago Reporter
Chalkbeat, the nonprofit news organization covering educational change efforts in the communities where improvement matters most, is seeking reporters to join our Chicago team.
Chicago is in the midst of sweeping changes with far-reaching consequences for students and families, educators, and communities. Poverty, violence, and deep segregation present steep challenges for students, their families, and their schools. After a last-minute budget deal, the city school district remains on the brink of financial disaster. At the same time, a respected former principal recently has been named the new chief of schools, and Chicago boasts one of the fastest-improving big city school systems in the nation, a conclusion so unexpected that a Stanford researcher double-checked his work before confirming it.
Amid these highs and lows, Chicago’s public schools face a slew of changes at every level. In the K-12 system, school closures and bureaucratic overhauls have made a complicated system more confusing for many families. Enrollment has dropped. City officials also want to lead the country by dramatically growing the number of children enrolled in public prekindergarten, and, controversially, by not allowing students to graduate unless they have a plan for what to do next.
Reporters who join our team will cover these dynamics at a pivotal moment. You won’t just be responsible for conceiving and executing daily news stories; you’ll be tasked with providing crucial context for what is happening, who is affected, and why. You’ll analyze public policy decisions at the district and state level and assess the impact on educators, families, and communities. You will scrutinize the people calling the shots.
You’ll also tell stories about Chicago’s students. You’ll examine early childhood education from all angles and find its opportunities and its gaps; spotlight the needs of English language learners, special education students and children who have experienced poverty and trauma; and use a combination of data and on-the-ground reporting to bring the schools’ struggles and triumphs to light. You’ll collaborate with the Chalkbeat team in both the Chicago bureau and nationwide to deliver content in innovative ways. Finally, you’ll communicate and build relationships with readers and key players in the local community through our weekday newsletters, social media and events.
Who are you?
You are committed to local journalism and respect the transformative power a good story can wield. You’re a self-starter who is hungry to break news, eager to understand and inform vital public policy debates, and enthusiastic about creating new models for sustainable journalism. You’re a strong beat reporter who can develop reliable sources and beat the competition. You’ve got the ability to write a range of stories, from breaking news, to enterprise and long-term investigative projects. Most important, you can serve as a guide for our readers — school personnel, education insiders, parents, students, and curious citizens — in explaining how the city works. And you’re not afraid to call its leaders to task when warranted.
What background and skills do you have?
- Substantial reporting experience, preferably in digital, with a focus on public policy issues. (We’re open to hiring veteran reporters and up-and-coming journalists alike.)
- Experience working in a CMS, preferably WordPress
- Background in data journalism and visual production is a plus
- Passion for education and the future of Chicago and its children is a must
- Knowledge about education issues and the city of Chicago are strong pluses, but not required
The positions will be based at our Chicago office.
They are full-time positions with benefits. Chalkbeat offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and a generous benefits package, including a paid winter recess from December 26-31.
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 five 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.