WHY WE EXIST

The Hechinger Report is a nonprofit newsroom covering issues of inequality and innovation in education, from the earliest years through college and careers.

Our mission is to keep the public informed about one of the nation’s most important institutions during a time of immense economic and political change. Our journalism engages readers emotionally and intellectually to inform the broader national debate about how to improve education in the U.S. Each story we publish is meant to help the public understand the problems faced by our nation’s students and educators, along with the costs and benefits of proposed solutions.

Most of the 4 million American babies born each year start out their educational careers in America’s patchy, crumbling child care system, more than 50 million children are educated in America’s deeply divided public schools and nearly 20 million go on to study in our sprawling and segregated higher ed sector. Too often, educational experiences are determined by zip code, race, immigration status, gender and a family’s educational background. Gaps in opportunities and outcomes are vast. Black, Latino and Native American students and students from low-income households are disproportionately enrolled in schools with the fewest resources.

When the public, educators and elected officials better understand the causes and potential solutions to longstanding and pervasive inequality in our schools, they are more likely to take informed action and address these problems. We also believe that solutions proposed by policymakers and educators must be scrutinized to assess what is working and what isn’t.

We deploy resources, time and passion to report stories that shine a light on these issues, and we travel far and wide for our solutions-oriented stories and investigations. We dig into data, statistics and research to discover inequities and to test claims about potential fixes. We go deep to show how policy decisions made at the top of our systems impact those at the bottom: young children, struggling families and adults trying to make a better life for themselves through education.

We tell stories that will have an impact on the future of American schooling. 

The news industry faces collapse in many parts of the country. Thorough, reliable news is needed more than ever. As the corporate journalism industry struggles, The Hechinger Report fills the gaps and elevates the quality of coverage about education.

HOW WE WORK

 

The Hechinger Report was among the first nonprofit news outlets to focus on a single issue, in our case, education. We launched in 2010, and our site has become a deep repository of some of the best education journalism in the nation. All of our stories are free to readers, because we believe that in a democracy, journalism is a public service that must provide critical information to audiences no matter their ability to pay.

We strive to reach a diverse audience of readers — including those with their hands on the levers of change and those most affected by the problems we uncover. That’s why we make sure our stories are placed with partner news outlets throughout the country, to reach a broad and diverse set of people. Our work can be seen and heard in outlets large and small, including national and regional newspapers, magazines and websites, digital-first outlets, alternative weeklies and public radio stations.

OUR FUNDING

The Hechinger Report is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

We rely on support from foundations and individual donors to carry out our work. Many readers who are able do support our work financially, by becoming members.

As a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), we follow a series of ethical practices and donor transparency guidelines, including the following:

  • We retain full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization.
  • Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source.
  • We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.
  • We do not give supporters the right to assign, review or edit content, and we do not notify funders in advance of upcoming stories.
  • We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year.
  • Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.
  • We always disclose when our reporting covers our funders or programs that our funders support. Disclosures are included directly after the mention of the funder or program in the story.

The Hechinger Report is nonpartisan in the funding it accepts. All funders must respect our editorial independence and understand that they cannot influence or change our coverage. We will not accept funding from any donor who seeks to steer which stories we choose to write or how we write them.

We do not accept anonymous donations and all of our funders are listed on our supporters page.

Content published in The Hechinger Report — or content produced and disseminated by any of its collaborators with funding from the Hechinger Institute — is editorially independent of and does not necessarily reflect the views of Teachers College, its trustees, administration or faculty.

OUR VALUES

Independent: Our journalists ask tough questions and report on facts that contradict the status quo and threaten powerful interests.

In-depth: We are experts who study research and data before sending our journalists into classrooms and onto campuses to see ideas being carried out in practice.

High quality: Our stories are deeply researched and reported, carefully written and rigorously edited.

Solution-oriented: Our mission isn’t only to expose problems. We seek to find out what’s being done to fix them and whether those solutions are working and can be replicated.

Timely: The landscape of American education is changing quickly. We are on top of new developments and strive to be the first to explain the latest trends.

Accessible: The purpose of our journalism is to better inform the public about how well schools and colleges are serving students. That’s why we cut out the jargon and use plain language, so readers understand.

OUR ETHICS

We identify ourselves as reporters at the beginning of every conversation with a source.

We offer sources the right to respond. If a story includes criticism of a person, school, agency or company, we give the criticized party a chance to respond.

We seek balance. Balance does not mean acting as if every side has an equal number of voices, but we acknowledge conflicts or disagreements.

We ask the people who are impacted. At Hechinger, we strive to hear from multiple perspectives, but especially those most impacted by the problems or solutions we’re covering, including children and students. When we talk to children under 18, we always seek permission from their guardians. We also weigh our special responsibility to protect minors’ privacy when quoting them. Children who have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, for example, are not named in connection with that abuse. We may not fully identify children who have a drug addiction, mental health issue or involvement in the criminal justice system, depending on the circumstances.

We are transparent about our sources. We strive to include voices who are willing to speak using their full names. But when a source fears for their safety or privacy or fears retribution for speaking to the press, we explain why we’re not using someone’s name or full name to our readers. We never use pseudonyms.

We use data. Numbers help us identify disparities and problems, and also potential solutions and progress. They help us connect individual stories to larger trends. We are also aware that data can be cherry-picked and that it can mislead if misinterpreted, so we always provide context for and check the accuracy of the data we use.

We attribute and check our facts. Our reporters, editors and copy editors check and double-check the information we provide in our stories. We attribute information so readers can check it, as well.

We correct our errors. When we make a mistake, we correct it as soon as possible, and we’re transparent about the error. We note the place in the story where the original error occurred, and explain the correction at the end of the story.

We note common funders. If an organization we are reporting on shares a funder with Hechinger, we disclose that information in the story. For example: “The Gates Foundation is also one of the many funders of The Hechinger Report, the nonprofit education news publication that produced this report.”

We avoid conflicts of interest. Our reporters and editors avoid stories in which they have a personal connection to a source, school, organization or agency if it could influence the conclusions in the story. In any cases in which editorial staff working on a story have a personal connection to an entity covered in the story, we disclose the connection.

We are not advocates. Our journalism provides information to the public, based on the facts our reporters collect. While we may present conclusions or analysis of those facts, and explore programs or ideas that could solve a problem, we do not advocate for particular policies, programs or educational models.

We are nonpartisan. We do not advocate for any political parties or candidates. Our reporters may register in political parties and vote, but must not let partisanship influence their reporting and must otherwise refrain from making donations to political parties or partisan groups. Reporters and editors do not wear partisan buttons or t-shirts, sign petitions, display lawn signs or bumper stickers or participate in partisan marches or protests in support of candidates, legislation or specific policies. They must also refrain from holding public office, elected or otherwise.

The Hechinger Report also adheres to the values and ethics of the Society for Professional Journalists and the Institute for Nonprofit News.