The New York Times to Launch New Digital-Based Education Team

By Mark Walsh — August 29, 2016 2 min read
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The New York Times is creating a new, digital-based team of journalists to cover education with new ways of storytelling aimed primarily at the venerable newspaper’s growing online audience.

“Education has been a premier subject of New York Times coverage for decades, from the insanity of elite college admission to accountability journalism on classroom inequity,” the newspaper says in an Aug. 26 posting for a new editor to lead the team. “Now The Times is creating an education team to own this critical story on all platforms and for multiple audiences.”

The new education team is one of three digital beats the Times is creating. The others are climate change and gender, comprising “three vital subjects on which readers look to the Times for authoritative coverage,” Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said in a staff memo posted by Ben Mullin, the managing editor of the Poynter Institute, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based journalism think tank.

“The climate story is arguably the most important in the world today, and education and gender are not far behind, given the role they play in so many other stories, including economics and inequality and race, and politics,” Baquet wrote in his memo.

The Times executive editor said the education team, like the other two, will function separately from the news organization’s traditionally bureaucratic department structure. The team will report to Baquet and other top masthead editors and will oversee all reporters and editors whose existing role is to cover education, he said in the memo.

The ad for the new editor’s position suggests the new education team will be made up of 10 to 12 journalists, though it isn’t clear whether that includes existing education reporters and editors. (The Times has gone through various rounds of newsroom buyouts and layoffs in recent years.)

The new teams are part of larger changes for the Gray Lady, with Baquet stating in a May memo that the newspaper “will have to change significantly—swiftly and fearlessly.”

The changes have included a revamp of the way the daily print edition is planned and pulled together. In his memo about the new education, climate, and gender teams, Baquet says the paper’s new “print hub” helps make the new teams possible, and the teams’ stories will still be selected for inclusion in print.

But the goal of the new education and other teams seems to be to focus on digital first. The ad for the new editor for the education team says that editor “will have no print obligations.”

“The ideal candidate will have a compelling vision of how The New York Times presents education as an urgent, accessible story,” the ad states. “The coverage should encompass preschool, K-12, higher education, and vocational training, although we are open to proposals that argue for emphasizing one or more areas over others.”

“The coverage should include journalism in a variety of formats: video, photography, newsletters, data visualizations, podcasts, conferences, and more,” the ad continues. “The unit should make strategic decisions about which forms are top priorities and which are not.”

“This moment is an exciting one for the Times,” Baquet says in his memo. “We have the ability to make our report even better than it already is—and to put it in front of even more readers.”

The deadline to apply for the education editor’s position is Sept. 19, and the job is open to internal and external candidates.

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