A Chronicle of Higher Education co-op dug deeper and became a better reporter

Zipporah Osei was recognized for her “rich, balanced sourcing” and “expressive language and eye for detail.” Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

When Johns Hopkins University announced plans to create its own police force, Zipporah Osei saw the potential for a bigger story and dug deeper. Over the next three weeks, she delved into the tense relationship between the Baltimore Police Department and the city’s residents.

Through conversations with key figures from both sides, she chronicled the concerns among residents that a campus police force might target them.

“I really tried to paint a picture of both sides of this, and understand why Johns Hopkins might want a police force on their campus,” says Osei, who is studying journalism at Northeastern. “I got a good picture of what was going on in that community, and the push-pull there.”

“I left the Chronicle knowing that I wanted to continue doing education reporting and stay on this path,” Osei says. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

This is just one example of the five months of reporting Osei did as a Northeastern co-op at the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. The publication honored Osei with the 2019 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, and recognized her “rich, balanced sourcing” and “expressive language and eye for detail.” 

“I was thrilled to get the award and I’m appreciative of hearing from reporters and editors that I respected,” says Osei. “To hear that they felt so strongly about my reporting, that’s definitely validating.”

In addition to her Baltimore reporting, she was also recognized for her articles documenting what happens to students when their universities shut down, and examining how Boston is affected by the tax-exempt status of its many nonprofit organizations.

What allowed Osei to thrive, she says, was the environment at the Chronicle, specifically the freedom she was given as a co-op to seek out and pitch her own stories.

“They were really open about letting me write what I wanted to write about within higher education, whether that was topics to do with student life, administration, or community relations,” Osei says. “There wasn’t any internal push to get me to do lesser stories.”

Osei says she came to her co-op at the Chronicle with an interest in education reporting because it’s a topic that affects everyone in the community. 

“Because education is so expansive, it’s a topic that touches parents, anyone who has been through school, and anyone who is going back to school,” Osei says. “It’s almost a universal way to get people engaged in what’s going on in their communities.”

Osei followed her time at the Chronicle with an internship at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization that covers elementary and secondary education. She says those two experiences, as well as the award, have cemented reporting in education as the career path she plans to pursue.

“For me, I left the Chronicle knowing that I wanted to continue doing education reporting and stay on this path,” Osei says. “That award was confirmation that I’m headed in the right direction and that the work I’m doing is good.”

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