While nearly every other commercial and nonprofit media outlet is shedding journalists, and many outlets are down to just one or two (or even zero) education beat reporters, Southern California Public Radio is headed the other direction, staffing up to a team that includes five (5!) education reporters and a full-time education editor
As Vice President Russ Stanton explained it to me the other day, the station came up with a grand plan in 2010 to deepen coverage in 12 key areas important to the 18-million person Southern California region, including education and is currently in the middle of a 3-5 year implementation. See LA Times coverage here and here.
In the short term, the model is based on raising outside money specifically for education -- not surprising -- from foundations and wealthy individuals and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
As a result, the station has a higher ed reporter (lead reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez), a reporter focused solely on LAUSD (Annie Gilbertson) , another focused on general K-12 issues in surrounding districts (still unfilled as of a the time Stanton and I spoke), an early childhood education reporter (Deepa Fernandes), and an arts education reporter (Mary Plummer). The education editor is Evelyn Larrubia.
In two beat areas (arts and ECE), funders approached the station looking for more coverage. As is usually the case in such situations, the funders are given no control over what's covered, or how. The station is hoping that the deepened and expanded coverage leads to an increase in audience size, so that normal audience-based contributions to the station will be able to cover the costs of the staffing after the grants expire.
That's not to say that there aren't other outlets that are staffing up in recent weeks and months, including Politico, Hechinger, and the GothamSchools/EdNews Colorado collaboration I think is called the Education News Network.
However, the comparison with other big-city NPR affiliates is pretty stark: Chicago Public Radio is down to just one main education reporter (Linda Lutton) and a reporter-turned-producer (Becky Vevea). NYC public radio's Beth Fertig and more recent arrival Yasmeen Khan do most of the reporting on education.
Previous posts: Local NPR Stations Beefing Up Education Coverage; Nonprofit News Sites & NPR Stations Banding Together Image Flickr Colin Dunn.