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First Chronister Fellowship Recipient to Report on Migrant Families, Education

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The inaugural winner of the Education Week Gregory M. Chronister Journalism Fellowship has been announced: It's Alex Granados of EducationNC, a nonprofit organization that includes an independent online news site covering school issues in North Carolina.

Granados, 38, plans to use the fellowship to report on migrant agricultural families in the state and their children's experience in school.

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"It's an interesting and untold story in North Carolina: What is is like for the kids of migrant workers, or for kids who are migrant workers?" Granados said in an interview. "They don't have the stable school life that most people are accustomed to. What does that mean for their educational future? What is their experience like?"

Granados was chosen as the first winner of the fellowship named for Chronister, the longtime executive editor of Education Week, who retired last August after nearly 32 years with the newspaper. Chronister also held jobs such as managing editor, associate editor, and commentary editor. The fellowship program was announced last August.

Scott Montgomery, the editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Education Week and of its parent, Editorial Projects in Education Inc., said the fellowship competition drew a strong field of proposals, but that the selection committee liked several things about Granados's idea.

"He has a great background in the kind of journalism we like," Montgomery said. "He's serious-minded, he understands policy and the impact of policy. We knew he would be capable of doing the project he outlined."

"We also like the fact he works for an organization that takes education journalism as seriously as we do," Montgomery added. 

EducationNC is a collection of nonprofits and initiatives that includes some policy advocacy. But the EdNC online news outlet is independent of any influence from other arms of the organization, the group's website says.

And Montgomery said that the plight of migrant families is "largely undiscussed."

"The lives they have to live puts a strain on their children and puts a strain on the education system that they move in and out of," he added. "It's just not something that gets covered very much, so we bring some understanding to a very important part of education."

The finished project will be published in both Education Week and in EdNC.

Granados has worked at EdNC since just before it launched in January 2015. He had previously worked as a freelance writer, a public relations manager at Duke University's business school, a radio director, and the editorial page editor for a small newspaper.

"I had kind of parachuted into some education stories in my various jobs, but it was never something I really focused on," Granados said. "But once I got into it I realized that education is basically a microcosm for everything happening in the world."

The Chronister fellowship is open to early-career, mid-career, and veteran journalists. The recipient is expected to continue his or her regular employment, but receives financial support of as much as $10,000 for "a deeply reported investigative or enterprise package or series of stories spotlighting a pre-K-12 topic," according to EPE.

Photo: Alex Granados.

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