Team EdNC wins journalism awards in keeping with who we are and who we want to be

At EducationNC, we believe it is our calling to go out into our schools, community colleges, and communities every day and do our best work.

It is not to win awards.

But the awards EducationNC won tonight at the North Carolina Press Association say a lot about our deeply held beliefs when it comes to doing our best work.

EdNC embeds in communities

Robert Kinlaw won first place for his short documentary, We Drive It, about a student-led school redesign in Leggett, North Carolina. He embedded in the school for a year, even buying cameras for the students and training them to shoot video.

What did the judges say? “Outstanding video in all aspects. Thoroughly explains topic with student and staff interviews, creative shooting angles and creation, compliments written story well.”

Erin Swanson, the director of innovation for the Edgecombe County Public Schools says, “The EdNC team does so much more than just report on what’s happening. They have devoted countless hours over many years to telling a story that has truly become their story too, in a way that honors our scholars, our families, and our educators.”

EdNC lifts up leaders and best practices across North Carolina

Robert also won first place for this profile feature about NC’s principal of the year, Tabari Wallace. Wallace has developed a reputation for turning around failing schools, and this look at his leadership highlights Wallace’s practical strategies for school improvement. But when Robert asked Wallace what he’s most proud of at his current school, West Craven High School, the conversation turned to student hunger. Read on…

EdNC conducts research on the issues surfaced by the news

Analisa Sorrells won first place for education reporting for her series on education data.

Data about North Carolina’s students, teachers, classrooms, schools, and districts are woven into almost every discussion and debate about education across the state. This series highlights the ways that schools and districts across the state are using data in innovative ways.

What did the judges say? “The depth of this reporting is impressive. These pieces explain complex issues in a way that is easy to understand for the audience. This is exceptional work.”

EdNC takes complicated issues and creates targeted content for targeted audiences

Liz Bell won second place for multimedia project for her series, “Stories from the educational pipeline.” A February 2019 research project by Carolina Demography found only 16% of ninth graders complete an in-state degree on time in North Carolina. To help policymakers better understand the state’s educational pipeline, EdNC highlighted five stories of individuals’ educational journeys — ones that, like most student journeys across the state, do not fall into the “traditional” pathway from high school to a four-year university.

EdNC aspires to be audience first, delivering our content to our audience how they want it, where they want it, when they want it

As part of EdNC’s fifth anniversary, we have been working with Emily Roseman and Carrie Porter. Both work as media strategists nationally, and they have been helping us rethink and revamp our newsletters.

Fitting that Nation won second place for his email newsletter Awake 58, and Liz won third place for her email newsletter Early Bird.

Awake 58, our newsletter focused on community colleges, launched in August 2018 alongside our visits to all 58 community colleges. It currently has 24,726 subscribers and publishes weekly on Tuesdays.

Early Bird, our newsletter focused on early childhood, launched in September 2019. It currently has 955 subscribers and publishes every other Sunday.

Liz Bell at one of our early childhood listening sessions.

EdNC currently sends out more than 120,000 emails each week. You can sign up for our newsletters here. We will be writing more in the coming weeks about our new website and newsletter strategy.

Servant leadership matters to us

Our people who won awards would tell you that none of our work happens without the support of the whole team. From front-end story shaping to making sure the story shows up in the world the way we want it to, our work is an all of us.

At the NCPA gathering, chair of the board Eric Millsaps said, “we work nights, weekends, and holidays because news is happening, and it is our job to report it.”

To all of the team at EdNC, thank you for day in and day out showing up in community, listening deeply, bearing witness, and serving our students and our state in hopes of a better, brighter future.

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

The Editor's Notes