The Importance of Education Journalism

 

The education sector is fortunate news decision makers still value and respect the education round.

Despite shrinking newsrooms, the majority of Australia’s major metro newspapers still employ dedicated education reporters who expertly inform the public about issues and topics that matter.

Ironically the rise of ‘fake news’ and ‘click-bait’ has reinforced to the public the value of good journalism, and the education sector is fortunate to have many fantastic reporters, including Fairfax journalist Henrietta Cook.

Henrietta, the Education Editor at The Age recently won the prestigious Australian College of Educators media award for her in-depth story, ‘The terrible toll of an unreasonable system’, which focused on former school principal Mark Thompson and the intolerable stresses he faced.

Receiving the award, Henrietta told the audience Mark’s tragic story hit a nerve in the community.

“He was so capable, respected and valued, but he couldn’t escape the unbearable pressures of his job,” Henrietta said.

“Mark’s story is heart-breaking. He studied ways to reduce stress and the workload associated with his profession, but ultimately fell victim to it.”

Henrietta’s at-times uncomfortable story, shone a much-needed spotlight on the intense pressure many school principals face and opened the publics eyes to the daily challenges, excessive workloads and mental health demons many principals battle.

It also highlighted an industry in crises and a profession at breaking point.

Matt Thompson, whose father Mark was the centrepiece of the story praised the feature article, which honoured his father’s legacy.

“What dad went through was tragic and unbelievably sad, but Henrietta’s article about extreme workloads and the mental health battles many principals and teachers face has sparked a much-needed conversation,” Matt said.

“I’m regularly asked about the article and how mum is doing more than a year after the story was published.

“Change is slowly happening, because of dad’s legacy and Henrietta’s words.”

The impact of Henrietta article is proof of the power of good educational journalism.

My hope, is all education journalists continue to keep writing and digging and shining a spotlight on the stories that matter, and spark real debate and discussion in the community about education, teacher support and their health and wellbeing.

 

Helen Jentz,
Chief Executive Officer
Australian College of Educators

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