#MediaMonday – Neal Morton

Through my work with Arizona’s Native American communities, I have the opportunity to work with a variety of journalists from around the world.  Most often the conversations are strictly business, “just the facts” type conversations.  And every once in a while, the conversations evolve into something more.  Oftentimes it has to do with the sensitive nature of the topics and the sense of trust that develops between me and the journalist.

Neal Morton is one of those journalists.  He writes for the Hechinger Report covering K-12 schools in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. He most recently worked with the Education Lab team at The Seattle Times, and previously covered education for The Las Vegas Review-Journal in Nevada and The (McAllen) Monitor in Texas. His work has appeared in High Country News, Huffington Post, PBS NewsHour, USA Today and local media outlets.

Neal, how did you get your start in the media?

In high school, one of my best friend’s dad worked for the local newspaper. He helped me apply for a high school journalism internship — and the rest is history! I never really considered a path other than storytelling but formally learned the ropes of journalism at my college’s student newspaper. After college, a community paper in McAllen, Texas took a chance on a very green reporter and hired me to start covering K-12 schools on the U.S.-Mexico border.

What is your story?

My story starts with my family. My grandparents and their parents made some hard sacrifices — on one side we’re Mormon pioneers, on the other Mexican immigrants — to afford their children and my generation so much opportunity. I attended some high-quality public schools and a public university — this country’s education system can transform lives and enfranchise entire families if we invest in that public good.

Tell us about the Hechinger Report and the types of stories you work on?

The Hechinger Report — HECK-injure — covers the communities behind schools. The educators and parents and youth leaders who work every day to make America’s classrooms a more welcoming place for every student. We write about inequity in education, the problems and where they must be fixed to improve outcomes for all kids. We also write about solutions, the “howdunnit” in what works for families who often get the least.

We’d like to learn a little more about you….You grew up in Las Vegas and are now based in Seattle. When you aren’t traversing the American West for work, what do you do in your spare time?

I love to walk and hike and camp. And the PNW can’t be beat there. Reading or watching or discussing anything about astronomy and science fiction gives me life. My partner Joshua and I also serve and wait on two very regal cats.

Favorite type of music: The bassier or noisier, the better

Favorite color: Green, any and all shades

Favorite TV shows or movies: The Wire’s a new discovery — I know! — but Twin Peaks was my favorite even before moving to Seattle

Least favorite food: Peas

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you: I’m a gamer, I cannot stand onions and I’m afraid of bodies of water where I can’t see the bottom

How can we reach you: Cell phone: (212) 678-8247 or morton@hechingerreport.org

Written by
at May 1, 2023

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