The nationwide project puts pressure on journalists to tackle education, race and poverty

Austin (KXAN) – The coronavirus epidemic comes with some serious challenges. So how do schools and communities ensure that most of the required students don’t catch the cracks?

NextStar Media Group will launch a research initiative called “Pandemic Pass or Fail: Solutions for Education Equity” on September 21, adopting a solution-based approach to covering the carnavirus. Through a partnership with the National Nonprofit Solution Journalism Network – a team dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting on social problem response – Nexster Station reporters from across the country are working with an investigative team at KXAN in Austin, Texas, to tell one of today’s most pressing issues. The project explores how the epidemic has exposed socio-economic inequality between schools and students, and some have found solutions to bridge this gap. This includes addressing racial inequalities as well as other ways in which the epidemic is affecting different groups abnormally.

By paving the way for this project, KXAN was the first to implement the Solution Journalism reporting method in 2019 through its “Save Our Students: Solutions to Affordability and Safety” initiative. It was a response to widespread school violence in Texas and students’ mental health concerns. Under SJN’s direction and support, storytelling and community action activities have won numerous accolades, including the Mental Health America 2020 Media Award.

Based on that success and the positive response from viewers, KXAN and SJN once again participated in the spring of 2020 to collaborate on a nationwide project in the vicinity of Covid-19. A grant associated with the new partnership has given KXAN the opportunity to hire two dedicated solution journalists to focus on the impact of the epidemic on students. KXAN has since worked with Nexster’s corporate leaders to enlist a few more stations to join the work already underway, to investigate effective solutions within their communities. Each station received special training from SJN on this unique storytelling method and new stories will be published regularly throughout the rest of the year.

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