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Hillman Foundation Announces Second ‘Reporting the U.S. Workplace’ Program at Newmark J-School

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

The Sidney Hillman Foundation is sponsoring a second “Reporting the U.S. Workplace” program in January for journalists covering labor issues. The two-day workshop will again be hosted at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Tom Robbins, the J-School’s Investigative Journalist in Residence, will return as the program’s convener.

Over the last 18 months, the complexities of labor reporting have only increased as a result of a pandemic that has upended every aspect of the workplace. This program is designed to bring participants up to speed on how to cover a range of pressing issues including Big Tech’s role in the economy, gig workers’ employment status, how the changing political landscape affects workers’ rights, and the latest wave of workers organizing.

Once again, print, broadcast and digital journalists who cover labor and other beats that touch on workplace issues will be eligible. The program is to take place in-person on the J-School’s Manhattan campus Jan. 6-7, 2022. The program will be postponed if a spike in COVID-19 cases makes in-person classes unsafe.

The curriculum will include practical sessions with experienced journalists detailing how they did their best stories as well as how to find and use government and corporate data. Participants will have the opportunity to pitch story ideas and secure grants through the program to help support their reporting.

“The late New York Times labor reporter Bill Serrin’s words still ring true today: ‘You cover work, you cover everything,’” said Alexandra Lescaze, executive director of the Sidney Hillman Foundation. “Our goal is to give reporters the expertise to identify important labor stories and cover them skillfully.” The program is funded through a donation to the foundation from Jesse C. Crawford, an entrepreneur who is president and CEO of the Atlanta-based Crawford Media Services, Inc. All expenses including transportation, hotel and food are covered by the foundation.

Launched in January 2020, “Reporting the U.S. Workplace” drew 29 reporters from a range of outlets including The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Detroit Free Press, Politico, Teen Vogue, Vice, the Star Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times, as well as freelancers.

“The speakers were all interesting and spoke on subjects that were relevant and complementary,” according to a 2020 participant who filled out an evaluation survey. “The program was very well conceived – down to the very detailed research tipsheet that was sent out. It couldn’t have been better.”

The 2021 program had to be postponed as a result of the pandemic.

The journalism school has for several years run similar boot camps to train journalists to cover fiscal issues facing state and local governments, as well as climate change and resiliency.

“As a public journalism school, we consider it an important part of our mission to offer in-depth training to mid-career reporters, particularly as business pressures on our industry have virtually eliminated that role for newsrooms,” said Sarah Bartlett, dean of the Newmark J-school. “The economic fallout from the pandemic has made it crystal clear that smart coverage of labor issues is essential to understanding our world.”

Robbins, who has covered labor at the New York Daily News and the Village Voice, said quality journalism is the best way to improve the public’s understanding of the workplace. “More and more people labor at jobs without any safety net when it comes to what they are paid and their daily conditions of work,” he said. “These are rich, important stories that need to be told, and we want to provide journalists with some of the tools they need to help tell them.”

Among the confirmed faculty for the upcoming workshop are: Steven Greenhouse,  a veteran labor reporter and author who worked for many years at The New York Times; Michael Grabell, who covers labor, immigration, economy and trade for ProPublica; Corey G. Johnson, investigative reporter for the Tampa Bay Times; Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.; and Kate Andrias, an expert in labor law who is a professor at Columbia Law School.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation honors excellence in journalism in service of the common good via its annual Hillman Prizes and monthly Sidney Awards.

Reporters who are interested in the program should apply here. The application deadline is November 22.

Questions? Please contact Alexandra Lescaze at 917-696-2494 or Alex@HillmanFoundation.org