SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Earn better marks on the education beat

By Billy O'Keefe

NATHAN ALTADONNA / The Working Press
Covering education is more than attending school board meetings and writing about test scores. To find bigger stories, says Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews, a presenter at the “Providing A+ Education Coverage” session, you’ll need to dig deeper.
1) Go to class. Superintendents and school board members are removed from the action. The real story is inside the classroom.
2) Meet the principal. Get to know him or her at each school. You’ll get story ideas and you’ll get access to classrooms.
3) Look for personalities. From the demanding teacher to the inquisitive student, schools are full of interesting characters. They can add color to your stories.
4) Find the theme. Schools are team environments. The ways they’re trying to meet their team goal can be a story.
5) Back it up with data. Teachers and administrators are proud of their students’ accomplishments. Ask for test scores and other data to substantiate their claims.




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