Position Description

Higher Education Reporter
Location Chicago
Job Code 511
# of Openings 1
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About Chicago Public Media

Chicago Public Media is home to WBEZ , Chicago’s NPR news source and one of the largest and most respected public media stations in the country, as well as urban alternative music station, Vocalo . The organization serves the community with fact-based, objective news and information. WBEZ’s award-winning journalists ask tough questions, dig deep for answers and expose truths that spark change and foster understanding. In addition to its local and national news programming, WBEZ Chicago is home to a growing portfolio of popular podcasts, including the “Making” series of Making Beyoncé, Making Obama and Making Oprah; an investigative podcast series, Motive; 16 Shots: A podcast about the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald; Nerdette; and Curious City. WBEZ Chicago has a legacy of innovation as the birthplace of nationally acclaimed programs such as This American Life and Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and the ground-breaking podcast, Serial.

Chicago Public Media has recently acquired the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the Chicago’s two major daily newspapers and among the most storied dailies in the nation.  With the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ, Chicago Public Media is now home to one of the largest teams of journalists of any local news organization in the nation. Under the banner of Chicago Public Media, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times will reach more than 2 million people a week in the Chicago area across broadcast, print, and digital channels. Backed by a significant philanthropic commitment, Chicago Public Media plans to substantially increase its investment in local journalism by hiring additional reporters, producers and newsroom personnel in the months and years ahead. 


The Opportunity

We are seeking an experienced reporter to cover higher education for WBEZ’s award-winning education team, primarily in the Chicago area. We are looking for a reporter who can produce enterprise work, high-quality daily stories and investigations for web and audio both independently and as part of a team of four reporters and a senior editor. Our aim is to be the dominant source for education news in the Chicago area. This role reports to the Senior Editor, education. This reporter also will be supported by national editors and a network of other reporters across the country through a partnership and funding from Open Campus, a nonprofit newsroom focused on higher education. This position is represented by SAG-AFTRA.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Generate and execute daily and enterprise stories and projects on higher education
  • Produce in-depth, data-driven stories
  • Work collaboratively with an editor to find, report, and produce stories with depth and characters that humanize and illuminate the working of colleges and forces that shape classrooms
  • Collaborate with Open Campus editors where beneficial to brainstorm story ideas, consult on reporting and receive coaching
  • Produce work in a range of formats, including for broadcast and digital: spots, features, live and taped debriefs, live field reports and web stories (breaking, explanatory and enterprise)
  • Grapple with ideas critically — both your own and those of others
  • Develop big-picture approaches to covering issues and ideas, while also executing the many small tasks involved in reporting
  • Be self-directed and be able to ask for help from other colleagues and support colleagues that need help
  • Anticipate and break news
  • Write accurately and quickly and in your own voice
  • Hit deadlines and work under tight deadlines
  • Participate in on-air fundraising
  • Attend an annual Open Campus training that lasts up to two days
  • Follow and align work with our mission and be guided by the parameters of the WBEZ ethics policy


Required Skills and Experience

  • Reporting experience covering a complex beat; knowledge of education is welcomed, but not required
  • Digital writing experience required; WBEZ’s work is multiplatform. Radio experience is a plus but not required; if no experience, we’re looking for a willingness and ability to learn audio and a keen ear for finding stories and characters
  • Outstanding news judgment; experience in managing time and priorities
  • Knowledge of the rich diversity of stories, sectors, and communities throughout the Chicago region is helpful
  • Ability to meet deadlines and proven ability to work in a collaborative environment; provide and receive input and feedback to improve final work product
  • A track record of being a reliable and supportive colleague
  • Possess the highest journalistic and ethical standards, with an absolute dedication to accuracy, fairness, and attention to detail
  • Data experience or a willingness to learn basic data skills
  • Interested applicants must submit a cover letter that includes links to a portfolio of work and a minimum of 2 references (name, title, and contact information).  We will not contact any reference until we receive explicit approval from you


Working at Chicago Public Media

At Chicago Public Media, we care deeply about our employees as we know attracting, developing, and growing talent is key to our success and enhancing our impact.  Our culture is one where collaboration, ideas, and innovation are encouraged.  We value colleagues who will enhance our culture by bringing new ideas, diverse experiences, and talents to our dynamic workplace.

Chicago Public Media’s dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion is reflective across our brands, WBEZ 91.5 FM and Vocalo 91.1 FM, in our staff and in our work.  We are fully focused on equality of opportunity and believe deeply in diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, national origin, experience, and all other fascinating characteristics that make us different.

At Chicago Public Media we believe dedication to a great workplace includes supporting our employees and their families. As a result, we provide a broad and generous benefits package for you at hire and in the years to come.


Our benefits include:

 6 weeks fully paid family leave

 High quality Medical, Dental, and Vision plans at an affordable cost

 A 403(b)retirement plan with a company match

Generous paid time off, including starting with 3 weeks’ vacation and 4 personal days.

The essential functions described above are not all-inclusive and may change periodically to meet the needs of Chicago Public Media (CPM). The information contained in this job description is not intended to create any contractual or other legal commitment. Chicago Public Media may change the content or format of this job at any time in its sole and exclusive discretion without notice.

Chicago Public Media is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and we actively seek and welcome people from all backgrounds, orientations, and life experiences to join our team.

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