NECIR investigation of college president perks wins education writers award

An investigation from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting revealing the extensive perks enjoyed by public college presidents won the top award yesterday for investigative reporting for small staff news outlets from by the Education Writers Association.

In “How Perks Binge Sweetens the Pay of Massachusetts College Chiefs” and follow up stories, Jon Marcus used open records laws to identify the numerous benefits enjoyed by the heads of Massachusetts public colleges, in a time when they were seeking more funding from taxpayers.

“This is a strong, thorough package that clearly lays out the problem and resulted in action (albeit around the edges) to deal with very sweet pay packages for university leaders,” wrote one judge. Read more from EWA.

EWA describes the annual awards as “recognizing the top education stories in online, print and broadcast media across the country,” from outlets ranging from one-person bureaus to national news media.

A second series from NECIR, “Special Needs, Troubled Schools,” was a finalist in the same category. Jenifer McKim, Koby Levin and Gary Putka examined the troubling record of runaways, alleged abuse and financial enrichment at the Chamberlain International School, a private school receiving public funds to teach students with mental health disabilities. A companion report by Shannon Dooling aired on Boston’s WBUR public radio, a partner on the project.

“This is an impressive and decisive takedown of a school that is both abusing its students and its budget,” one judge wrote about the series, as provided by EWA. “What made it so compelling: the level of detail, and the marriage of financial investigation with stories from students and families.” Read more from EWA.

Review the full list of finalists.