Ottaway Visiting Professor Sarah Carr discusses importance of lifting voices in education journalism at introductory Q&A

Sarah Carr, the fall 2022 Ottaway Visiting Professor of Journalism at SUNY New Paltz, offered insight into the need for elevating children and families’ voices when reporting on K-12 education at a Sept. 22 Q&A and introduction to the campus community. 

An independent journalist, Carr has spent decades as a reporter focusing primarily on inequity in public education. That topic is the foundation of the seminar she is teaching in New Paltz’s Department of Digital Media & Journalism, “The Kids Story.” 

“It is not enough to just document inequality,” said Carr. “We need to seek to fundamentally change the way people use systems that serve our fellow citizens.”

In her writing, Carr endeavors to shift the focus from people in positions of power to the children often left behind in conversations about the education system. 

“I try to approach my stories from a grassroots perspective,” she said. “I like to listen more to the voices of the people most affected.”

President Darrell Wheeler hosted the Q&A with Carr, posing a series of his own questions before inviting comment from the gathered audience of students, staff, faculty and community members.

“You are developing content to a platform, to bring to life all that you have gathered from two years of work more on working with a family. That is powerful stuff,” he said. “I think that you have an almost sacred relationship with your sources to honor, to listen, to do justice to what is shared with you, and to bring that to other audiences.”

The format of the event produced a highenergy, wide-ranging conversation tapping into Carr’s experience and expertise on education and media 

Those who were unable to attend this event will have another opportunity to see Carr speak, at a public lecture she will present on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium. More details about that event will be forthcoming.  

Read on for a few selected excerpts of her remarks and responses to audience questions.

On covering youth mental health:

“There’s not nearly enough reporting and journalism that focuses on young people and acknowledges that there’s fragility and resilience at the same time in today’s youth.” 

On advice for journalists starting out:

“My goal is to encourage young journalists to really bring their values and ideals to the kind of journalism they do and the kind of institution that they hope to work for.” 

On legacy media and access to journalism:

“Organizations that are not the New York Times or Washington Post are being faced with a lot of economic pressures.” 

On learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“There were a lot of inequalities that the pandemic created, but for the most part, it exacerbated things that had existed long before. When it came to reading instruction, some of these families were set up so much better for years before to kind of navigate their way through this massive disruption than other families.” 


About the James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship

The James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship, SUNY New Paltz’s only endowed professorship, is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., who was a leader of the American Press Institute and a lifelong supporter of high quality journalism in the Hudson Valley and across the globe.

The Ottaway Visiting Professorship was established in 2000 through the generosity of James H. Ottaway Jr. ’18 HON and Mary Ottaway ’70g (Elementary Education).

Numerous well-known journalists have preceded Carr as Ottaway professors, including Pulitzer Prize winners, foreign correspondents, book authors, editors, investigative reporters and experts in finance, science and consumer journalism.

More information about the Ottaway Visiting Professorship, including biographies of previous professors, can be found at