This is the fourth in a series of regular posts introducing you to the journalists who bring you the news.
The back-to-school season is a busy one for Dahlia Bazzaz. For the past year and a half, Bazzaz has served as engagement editor for Education Lab, a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. Ed Lab produces solutions-oriented stories, as well as guest essays, live chats, events and more. Learn more about it here.
Recently, Bazzaz set aside her long to-do list to answer a few questions about her role at The Seattle Times.
Q: You’re Education Lab’s engagement editor — what does that mean?
A: Engagement is a nebulous term, so I usually tell people what I do, rather than what my job title is. Essentially, I help promote public voices in our reporting and the projects we do. I identify stories for members of the public to share in their own ways, whether through speaking at an event or writing an essay, and I help them craft that voice that they have.
Q: You edit Student Voices — essays by high-school and college students about their lives. How did that get started?
A: Student Voices was born out of this idea that traditional education reporting doesn’t reflect the perspectives of students enough. The series gives you a sense of how students are processing events at school — everything from how a student was observing the presidential election to what it’s like to be a child of immigrants going to college, who can’t rely on parents for financial or educational support. These are perspectives you don’t read very often, and that’s the essence of good journalism. As one of my editors said, “It makes it harder when you include other voices, but it always makes your journalism better.”
Q: How did you get interested in journalism?
A: In my family, we’re always talking about politics and foreign affairs. I think it’s because we’re Iraqi and I grew up during the war on terror. Every dinner was like a U.N. Security Council meeting. I would try to keep up by watching the news or picking up a newspaper whenever I could. I always liked being able to have pieces of knowledge and information available to me to take to the table and be a part of the conversation.
Q: What kinds of misconceptions do you think people have about journalists?
A: People often think about journalists as very opportunistic. (Look at film portrayals of journalists; they’re not great — starting with Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter!) Sometimes people think they shouldn’t say anything to me because I’m just trying to get a big scoop or a big story. But journalism is about much more than that; it’s about documenting humanity. Sure, humanity screws up a lot, and we have to write about that. But there are also triumphs, and we try to tell those stories too.
NOTABLE WORKS BY DAHLIA BAZZAZ
Wondering what big changes you can expect in Washington schools? We dug through the state’s new education budget so you don’t have to. (July 7, 2017)
About 10 percent of Washington’s public-school students are English Language Learners: They’re young (53 percent are in third grade or younger), they’re growing in number, and, according to data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, they bring astonishing linguistic diversity. We looked at the top 10 languages spoken by English Language Learners in the state — and why they’re important to measure. (Aug. 16, 2017)
Watch: From ‘Black Hair Matters’ to board games, here are the 11 fast talks from Ignite Education Lab
A compilation of videos from a storytelling event held in February 2017 at Town Hall Seattle in which a dynamic line-up of 11 teachers, parents and students tell stories about schools and learning. (Feb. 10, 2017)
We opened up feedback forms and polls about what practices you think are appropriate for improving attendance. Here’s what you had to say. (March 13, 2017)
Other highlights from Education Lab
- A soon-to-be grad asks, can I help ease the Washington state teacher shortage?
- From loathing to learning: Here are your stories about teachers who changed your minds
- Meet the 2017 Education Lab Student Voices columnists
- What happens when a regular high school decides no student is a lost cause?
- How high schools break up the ‘ninth-grade bottleneck’ to help students graduate on time
- Homeless students drawn to Seattle schools by sports are often cast aside when the season’s over
- Not enough and too late: Critics of Washington’s school-funding plan don’t mince words with Supreme Court
- We expel preschool kids three times as often as K-12 students. Here’s how to change that.
- Seven tips to help you graduate from college in four years
Want more education news from Dahlia Bazzaz and the rest of the Education Lab team? Sign up for our Education Lab newsletter.
Curious about a particular staffer? Write to Deputy Managing Editor Lynn Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.