Launched in 2016, Mississippi Today is the state’s only nonprofit newsroom with one of the largest editorial teams in the region. Mississippi Today is recognized as a leader in independent, nonpartisan journalism in the Deep South.
If you are a journalist with a deep curiosity about how the higher education system really works in Mississippi — from the sociological factors that influence a student’s decision on whether or not to enroll, to the political influence of the Institutions for Higher Learning (IHL) governance of our state’s colleges and universities — you might be the reporter Mississippi Today seeks to create a new state higher education beat.
This reporting position — a one-year position that we hope to be able to extend — is made possible through a partnership with Open Campus, a national nonprofit news organization that’s creating a network of local reporters dedicated to covering higher education and the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, a Mississippi nonprofit that believes postsecondary degrees and credentials are vital in improving the lives of Mississippians, building communities, and strengthening our workforce—all of which lead to a better and brighter Mississippi. The reporter will work with experienced editors at Mississippi Today and Open Campus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, and widened, racial and economic gaps in higher education. College enrollments are falling, particularly among low-income and first-generation students, and applications for federal financial aid are down. At the same time, state funding for higher education is threatened, and colleges themselves are confronting revenue losses. Higher education funding and the IHL board structure remain a key conversation at the state Capitol. This reporter would work closely with the top political reporting team in the state to cover the confluence of these issues and politics.
The higher education reporter will produce stories that support Mississippi Today’s vision and mission, which is to hold elected officials accountable and inform citizens about how the policy and decisions implemented by the state’s powerful affect their lives.
Report and write longform and short stories and multimedia presentations about Mississippi higher education issues, including general news coverage of the state’s colleges and universities
Investigate Mississippi’s IHL system, with an eye for racial justice and equity.
Closely cover the higher education field in Mississippi, building relationships with college and university staff, higher ed attainment advocates and individuals affected by barriers to a college education in Mississippi.
Use a solutions lens to explore grassroots efforts and state programs that are working to improve access to higher education attainment.
Develop sources and report in diverse communities, including urban and rural, and engage members of the public in identifying opportunities and barriers in the higher ed system.
Proven ability to work independently under deadline pressures.
Collaborate with the Audience Team to think creatively about formats and tools for communicating higher education topics to a broad, statewide audience.
Work with our data, visual and social media journalists to create compelling story presentations.
Communicate with colleagues on stories and projects — while there will be plenty of opportunities for solo projects and stories, Mississippi Today is a collaborative newsroom that often shares bylines.
Cultivate collegial and productive relationships with other news organizations, with a goal of co-publishing and partnerships with newsrooms both in Mississippi and part of the wider network of Open Campus, a nonprofit news collective focusing on higher education journalism.
It is a plus if you have:
Experience covering higher education issues, with an understanding of how the IHL is structured and how colleges and universities are funded.
Experience with filing records requests and working with data is encouraged but not required.
Must be Mississippi based, but working remotely from our Ridgeland-based newsroom is an option.
What you’ll get:
-The opportunity to work alongside award-winning journalists and make significant contributions to Mississippi’s only fully staffed, nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news and information source.
-Highly competitive salary with medical insurance, and options for vision and dental insurance.
-Cell phone stipend.
-29 days paid time off.
-Up to 12 weeks of parental family leave, with return-to-work flexibility.
-Simple IRA with 3 percent company matching. Group-term life insurance provided to employees ($15,000 policy).
-Support for professional training and attending industry conferences.
How to Apply:
We’re committed to building an inclusive newsroom that represents the people and communities we serve. We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply for this position, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people who are differently abled.