In responses to our survey of people who have used the public editor resource, several mentioned they would like a clearer explanation of what I can help with.
Some background: EWA created the public editor position in 2008 in response to complaints from education journalists that they are thrown into the beat with little background, their editors don’t have as much time for them as they used to, and they are asked to take on more and more work. (More with less!) The position is funded by several foundations: Lumina, Spencer, Carnegie, Joyce, Pew.
What do I do? I suggest sources and research, talk over ideas and help reporters put stories into national context. I’ve advised reporters on how to deal with recalcitrant superintendents, or editors. I critique pieces already published or edit ones in progress. If you’re an author, current or aspiring: I’ve helped writers shape proposals, commented on manuscripts and suggested avenues for publicity. I’ve put freelancers in touch with editors. I’ve edited resumes and cover letters.
The service is free; you don’t have to belong to EWA to get my help—though we’d love it if you joined. You can be an experienced education writer or working on your first piece—the only requirement I can think of is that you write, edit or produce education journalism (a term I think of in its broadest sense). You can call or e-mail me anytime, about anything. When I don’t know how to help, I’ll put you in touch with someone who can.
One reporter said in the survey she didn’t want to wear out her welcome. Really, you can’t.