NPR Digital News Veteran Joining Education Week as Top Editor

By Mark Walsh — June 20, 2017 3 min read
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Education Week has a new editorial leader with a wide range of general and digital news experience.

Scott Montgomery, currently the managing editor of audience and partnerships at NPR, will take on a newly established position of editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Education Week and its nonprofit parent corporation, Editorial Projects in Education, when he starts work July 10.

Michele J. Givens, EPE’s president and CEO, announced the selection to the newsroom last week. “Scott is a digitally progressive news executive,” said Givens. “There were quite a few highly qualified candidates who came from both within the field [of education journalism] and outside of the field. Scott emerged as the candidate who had what we were looking for.”

“We’re at a really interesting moment both for education and for Education Week,” Montgomery said in an interview. “There is a transition going on at this organization. It is financially stable, but like other media organizations, it needs to be rethinking how it does things.”

Scott Montgomery, currently NPR’s managing editor of audience and partnerships, will start as editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Education Week in July.

Montgomery, 51, was previously managing editor, digital news, for NPR, where he has worked since 2012. Among other jobs in a three-decade career, he was editor-in-chief of Roll Call, which covers Congress and national politics, and senior editor for government and politics at the St. Petersburg Times, in Florida.

At the Florida newspaper (now known as the Tampa Bay Times), Montgomery led a team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for PolitiFact, an online political-reporting initiative.

Strategic Role

Montgomery will join Education Week as its longtime executive editor, Gregory Chronister, is retiring. The new position is envisioned as providing strategic editorial leadership across all of the organization’s digital, print, video, social-media, and other K-12 news and information ventures.

Chronister said at the newsroom meeting that the new job encompasses some of what he has done, some of what was done by Virginia B. Edwards, who was the editor-in-chief of Education Week and president of EPE before stepping down last year, “and more.”

Givens said the organization’s goal was to hire someone who fit with its mission and aspirations, had “impeccable” credentials, and could represent Education Week and EPE to external audiences. She said Montgomery had “sterling credentials” and strong reviews for his management skills and for a “strong, data-informed focus.”

Givens added that she believes Montgomery eventually will “make the job his own.”

Mark Stencel, who worked at the publication Congressional Quarterly when it was owned by the publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, and when Montgomery was at the paper, said in an interview that Montgomery is “a measured person with a wry sense of humor” and “an awesome editor” whose “editing career has required him to work at the intersection of traditional media outlets and digital media outlets.”

“A huge part of senior editing jobs is deciding when to experiment, and what’s worth trying even if it fails, and what needs to be done again,” said Stencel, who is now a co-director of the Duke University Reporters’ Lab and a visiting faculty member at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “Scott is very comfortable with those kind of choices.”

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Education Week‘s managing editor, was among the newsroom staff members who met with finalists for the new job and provided feedback to Givens.

Manzo said she was struck that the candidate thought highly enough of Education Week to be ready to leave one of the nation’s major news organizations to come work for it.

“I find him to be a dynamic thinker who can help us innovate and go on to have a greater impact,” she said.

Montgomery said he hopes to lead a conversation at Education Week about the increasingly competitive landscape for education journalism and where the nearly 36-year-old news organization aims to fit.

Education Week is a really unique place,” he said. “There is real thought leadership going on there, not just in the field of education, but in the field of media.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2017 edition of Education Week as NPR Digital News Veteran Joining Education Week as Top Editor

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