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Who you are and what you want: Here are the results from our latest reader survey

Caroline Bauman/Chalkbeat

Every year, we poll our readers on a host of questions ranging from their role in education to which topics interest them most.

More than 1,000 people responded to the Chalkbeat survey this year, and we’re grateful to all of them. Those who answered our callout represent our most loyal readers, but they’re only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people who come to Chalkbeat each month, not to mention those we reach through our many republication partnerships.

We’re sharing the answers because you were generous with your time, and we want to be generous with what we learned. We work for you, after all. The better we understand you, the better we can do our jobs as reporters.

Who answered our survey?

Of survey respondents, 70 percent classify themselves as unadulterated ed news nerds: They read as many education stories as they can get their hands on every day. We salute you!

Just a hair over half work in schools or school districts, while 24 percent work in education nonprofits, policy, or research. Fifteen percent identify as parents or activists. This breakdown makes sense to us. We know a lot of Chalkbeat’s parent audience reads us not through our frequent newsletters but through community organizations or other news outlets we partner with, from grassroots parent groups to local papers. That said, we’d love to see our most loyal reader mix include more parents over time, and have more parents respond to our survey in the future.

Survey respondents also shared their racial identity. In line with trends in the racial composition of our most engaged reader groups — teachers and education nonprofit professionals — most of our respondents are white. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Seventy-six percent identify as white
  • Thirteen percent as black
  • Five percent as Latino
  • Three percent as Asian
  • Three percent as other/multiple

Just as we want to see more parents, we want to see the racial breakdown in our survey respondent mix change over time, too. We work very hard to represent, include, and reach out to diverse communities. That’s part of our values as an organization. To that end, we recently held a listening tour with 14 events in six cities, drawing a diverse mix of nearly 400 people in total. Our Reader Advisory Board helps hold us accountable. And we’re committed to hiring people that reflect the varied backgrounds and perspectives of the communities we work in.

We launched two new locations in 2018 — Chicago and Newark — so we were happy to see responses across all of our bureaus. Our oldest family members, Colorado and New York, provided the most responses, with Indiana and Tennessee hot on their heels.

What are they interested in?

Our loyal readers are most interested in education politics and policy, with equity in education a close second. (Of course, we know those things are inextricably linked!) They also want to know more about school improvement efforts, funding, and teaching in classrooms.

We learned that parents in particular are hungry for coverage of choice and school funding, and those working in schools are interested in coverage of politics.

What do they want to see more of?

We love hearing ideas from readers. Here are some we’re taking to heart:

  • More stories from inside the classroom
  • Solutions-oriented stories
  • More parent and student voices
  • Clearer places for readers to ask questions that Chalkbeat can answer
  • “Explainers” that synthesize information

Respondents also asked for more office hours and public-facing meetings, and we’re already working on it. We embarked on our listening tour over the summer, and we’ve got more events in store later this year.

How do they feel about Chalkbeat?

At Chalkbeat, we believe that reporting the news is not enough. Our mission is to drive impact by empowering our readers to engage in informed action and debate. So we’re always happy to see people take action after reading our stories.

Survey results indicate we’re doing a good job: Seventy-three percent of respondents are “very satisfied.” On a 10-point scale, 8.4 would recommend us. And if Chalkbeat ceased to exist tomorrow, 65 percent of respondents would feel they had lost a source of news they can’t find anywhere else.

We work hard at our newsletters, so we were pleased to learn that 88 percent of our loyal readers find them “almost always” or “usually useful.” Not getting our emails yet? Check out our signup page. How I Teach and our Spanish-language newsletter in Colorado are the latest additions to the fold, with more coming soon.

Our readers inspire us every day. Here’s a quote from one we’re inscribing on our hearts:

“I see Chalkbeat in the trenches; sharing the load, helping the load, and being honest; good or bad.”

Don’t be a stranger

We love hearing from readers all the time, not only during our annual survey. Here’s how to get in touch, and if you need to reach us confidentially, send a secure text message via the Signal app to 908-827-1494.

Contact our network team:

Contact a local team:

General contact: Chicago
Sponsorships: Colorado
Jobs board: Detroit
First Person pitches: Indiana
National desk: New York

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