ONA Session: Building sources and trust in hard-to-reach communites
Reporting on marginalized and hard-to-reach communities is particularly challenging, intensive work, but engaged reporting — across a variety of mediums — holds the key to collecting tips, an essential step in developing productive, rewarding work that illuminates untold stories.
This session is designed for:
- Journalists having difficulty building sources and gaining trust
- Reporters who want to know how to use social media, text messaging and structured submission forms to collect tips
- Anyone interested in better understanding hard-to-reach groupsRachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, opens the session.
Rachel Glickhouse is a journalist and the partner manager for ProPublica۪s Documenting Hate project. She also teaches engagement journalism at the New School in New York. She previously worked at Univision, Medium and Americas Society/Council of the Americas and has written for Al Jazeera America, Quartz and GlobalPost. She has a master۪s degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism., Building Sources and Trust in Hard-to-Reach Communities, Closed Networks are Revolutionary for Oppressed People and Reporters Covering Them Maria Sanchez Diez talks about working with migrants to portray their experiences, using smuggling traumas as an example.
It's important to ask the right question in the right moment. They embedded a form on all their migrant stories.
Maria Sanchez Diez is a reporter and an editor working at the intersection of journalism and product. She currently works at ProPublica as a Partner Manager for Electionland. Maria was most recently an editor for emerging news products at Univision Digital, where she worked on developing new storytelling techniques and formats, as well as on large-scale projects and partnerships. She۪s also had stops at Conde Nast Traveler Spain and at El Pais. She۪s a former Fulbright scholar and Tow-Knight Center fellow., Building Sources and Trust in Hard-to-Reach Communities.
They created a form to capture migrant stories but got few responses until they started lookiyng it out from all their migrant stories so people had context. Julia Chan, Mother Jones, speaks about how they covered the travel ban and solicited stories from people. They posted the call out in a private Facebook group around the topic which got a lot of support and promotion from members of that group.
Julia B. Chan is developing new editorial and engagement initiatives as the Director of Audience at Mother Jones. She was previously the Digital Editor at Reveal and The Center for Investigative Reporting where she managed content strategy, story production and audience engagement for its radio show/podcast and long-form investigative work. A champion of diversity inside and outside of the newsroom, Julia serves on AAJA۪s national governing board and founded Journalists of Color, a global community of digitally savvy and diverse journalists., Building Sources and Trust in Hard-to-Reach Communities
Just like you shouldn't parachute into a community, you can't do that in a Facebook group. Their reporter reached out to moderators and established a dialog first.
Audience members aren't just readers, they can be so much more. Rethink your perspective and how you engage with them. Leverage their expertise and actions.
Know where your audience is. Mother Jones knew the people they wanted to talk to (DACA / Dreamers) preferred Instagram and so out call outs there and solicited influencers on that platform to help share their story and spread the word. When at Medium, Rachel Glickhouse worked on a story around missing migrants "Ghost Ship." The reporter tapped into a Facebook group and asked their readers to share their expertise on topics like Satellite imaging and help with ther reporting.
They even had their readers reviewing satellite imagery.
Sadly they never found the boat and believe it sank. The theme to these examples seems to be:
- go where the affected population is (Facebook groups, Instagram, etc),
- don't be afraid to ask for help
- think of your readers as broader assets than a passive audience
When it comes to covering hard to reach (physically) coverage, Maria shares how they texted (in language) important updates during a hurricane and engaged with the affected Community. Using WhatsApp and Facebook and Google forms to collect and distribute info.
During Hurricane Maria, their own reporters struggled to get updates as Puerto Rico had "gone dark."
Maria stresses the importance of having a diverse newsroom in order to find and cover communities.
"Listen, then serve." They reunited over 100 families.
Rachel gives a ProPublica example around documenting hate crimes, where people typically don't report the crimes or want to talk to journalists.
They created a form and ask other organizations who are tapped into these local communites to help distribute. They also partner with large newsrooms around the country and share resources, tips, leads, and records.
ProPublica's intake form for collecting hate crime stories.
Julia gives an example of a campaign that didn't work so well. Reporter wanted to get info from families who rely on CHIP.
They didn't get many responses. Why?
- CHIP recipients don't read Mother Jones
- Twitter wasn't the best megaphone, while nonprofits are on it, their clients may not be
- Feedback that the stock photography featured a Caucasian boy whereas that doesn't reflect most CHIP recipients (disconnect on who the call out was for)
Important to be strategic with targeted outreach
Maria gives an overview of ProPublica's Election and initative.
They are working closely with WhatsApp which is heavily used by Latin-American community in US.
"It's important to listen to the community, identify any special needs they have, and identify the right channels or platforms to reach them."
WhatsApp is a powerful tool, but it's a closed network, so ProPublica hopes to develop a better way to handle mass responses and communication (they recently released a new API). Text messaging apps may meet this need.