Education News Outlet Chalkbeat Is Expanding to Chicago, Newark in 2018

By Mark Walsh — October 31, 2017 2 min read

The online education news organization Chalkbeat is expanding again. Early next year, it is starting a bureau in Chicago and a one-year pilot in Newark, N.J., the site announced Monday.

The changes come just a year after Chalkbeat launched a Detroit operation which, like the Newark site, started as a pilot before becoming the organization’s fifth full bureau. The others cover Colorado, Indiana, New York City, and Tennessee.

Elizabeth Green, the co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of the nonprofit news organization, said in an interview that Chicago was one of two finalists for the newest full bureau, and was chosen over the San Francisco Bay area for several reasons. (Discussions will continue over a future Bay Area site, she said.)

Chicago is a huge urban school system facing poverty, violence, and budget challenges, but which has shown some signs of improvement. Meanwhile, the media landscape and coverage of education in the city has been diminished by financial challenges to its two daily newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, and by the demise of an independent education publication, Catalyst, which was subsumed by another independent news outlet, the Chicago Reporter.

“We would like to do a pretty granular focus on the day-to-day issues facing poor communities in Chicago,” said Green. “And we want to partner with the existing media there. The media ecosystem in Chicago has a lot of opportunities for partnerships, with [public radio station] WBEZ, the papers, ethnic media, and public television.”

The pilot project in Newark came about after conversations over a long period time with community members, philanthropists, and journalists in the city, which is also undergoing sweeping changes in its school system. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s 2010 donation of $100 million to the Newark system sparked efforts to overhaul teacher pay with performance bonuses and to create more charter schools. Meanwhile, the 36,000-student Newark district is returning to local control after years of state oversight.

Green said the Newark Star-Ledger is “a formerly wonderful newspaper that just has diminished resources,” while a nonprofit news outlet covering education in the state, NJ Spotlight, is laudable but cannot devote significant coverage to Newark.

“We’ve really seen the power of community journalism,” Green said. The Chalkbeat sites continue to provide enterprising local reports, such as an investigative story this week by Chalkbeat Indiana examining online charter schools in the state.

As it looks to hire a bureau chief for Chicago and a “fellowship” reporter for Newark, Chalkbeat is likely to continue to expand, Green said.

Some big cities such as Los Angeles, which has an independent education news outlet (LA School Report), expanded public radio coverage, and other media, wouldn’t rank as high on Chalkbeat’s list, Green said.

“But there are so many communities that don’t have strong local education reporting,” she said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read