— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) March 26, 2016
While none of us was paying attention this past winter, Maura Walz left Chalkbeat and headed West to KPCC Los Angeles Public Radio, where she now edits the station’s education team.
Arriving in November, Walz was part of a restaffing of nearly the entire education team. Deepa Fernandes was on early childhood, and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was doing everything else. Editor Evelyn Larrubia had moved up to management, and her replacement as editor had moved to the political desk. Breaking education news reporter Annie Gilbertson had moved on to do investigative reporting, and was eventually replaced by Seattle’s Kyle Stokes. Priska Neely is now the arts education reporter.
Balancing news, features, and other beats in a new town is no easy task. But in a phone interview, Walz said that her goal for the team has been to mix breaking news with deeper, more localized coverage. “We should be doing the same type of really really strong watchdog work that Annie made the desk known for, but also trying to root our coverage in what’s happening in the classroom.” She calls the latter part — linking policy and real-world impact her “Chalkbeat lens.”
“To me, breaking news and parent and teacher perspectives sort of feed on each other,” said Walz. “The news coverage is better when you have the steady stream stories showing why things are the way they are. Good news coverage able to get that context.”
To be sure, the media environment she finds herself in is less crowded than the one she left behind in New York City, though the LA Times is hard to ignore. The shooting in San Bernardino was an all hands on deck kind of story, and the threats against the LAUSD school system were a bit of a challenge for someone who had arrived recently. Stokes wasn’t hired yet. “I was still getting to know people and the system,” said Walz. “I felt very very green.”
Now pretty well settled in, Walz has been deeply involved in the station’s #GoodSchools series, in partnership with a hosted show the station airs called Take Two.