Homeschooling Podcast Notches Top Award From Newswomen’s Club of NYC

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

A student-produced podcast examining homeschooling in the U.S. has earned first-place honors in the Newswomen’s Club of New York’s Front Page Awards.

Mary Steffenhagen
Mary Steffenhagen

Mary Steffenhagen’s “Home Ed” podcast took home the top prize in the Audio: Investigative category, competition organizers announced Dec. 5. The piece is part of “When Home is School,” a NYCity News Service investigation that’s already garnered multiple national awards.

Now an associate producer at WNYC’s The Takeaway, Steffenhagen (Class of ‘21) was part of a field of winners that included journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,  Bloomberg News, The New Yorker, ABC, NBC and CBS, among other news organizations.

Also among the winners: Claudia Irizarry Aponte (Class of ‘18), whose reporting for THE CITY on the Bronx fire that took 17 lives in January helped her capture the top spot in the Local Reporting: Breaking News category.

Steffenhagen’s podcast included the story of a West Virginia state legislator subjected to a national backlash after he introduced a bill he believed could help protect homeschooled children at risk of abuse.

The lawmaker found himself up against the powerful Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which advocates for homeschooling as part of a larger conservative agenda.

Steffenhagen also interviewed a now-30-year-old woman who recounted how HSLDA’s  mission shaped her life by tapping into a culture war over politics and religion.

“When Home is School” has already been recognized with honors in the Online News Association’s Online Journalism Awards, Editor & Publisher’s EPPY Awards and in competitions run by the College Media Association and the Associated Collegiate Press.

The NYCity News Service, launched in 2007, provides student stories about New York City neighborhoods to professional outlets and produces multimedia special reports.

The student-powered News Service, the school’s 219West TV news magazine, and its AudioFiles podcast and radio programs have collected scores of honors in journalism competitions run by Editor & Publisher, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Online News Association, the Associated Collegiate Press, the College Media Association and other noted media groups.