Keeping Your American Dream Alive – a reporting strategy

The doors have opened and we apparently are rushing towards new immigration laws.

That’s what Washington says.

But does Washington listen to the world of immigrants as you know it?

Does it see the faces, and hear the stories that you can tell? Will the changes match watch these people want and expect?

Experts say immigration reform will live or die in the next few months.

So, now seems the time to tell these stories about how immigration works and doesn’t work.

You say you’ve told it many time before. Or that everybody knows it.

Well, the fact is that we all forget and there’s nothing wrong with putting it together  in a reporting campaign.

What kind of campaign?

Here’s are several strategies.

One – You tell the stories about what is wrong with the system, but you put a face and a voice if possible on these problems.

The face of someone whose paperwork was lost in the bureaucracy, of someone whose wife was among the 1,100 deported nationally daily, of someone who paid $5,000 to a fake attorney or a notario claiming to solve their legal problems.

You tell us about the workers who live in the shadows where they are undepaid and abused. You let us see what it is like to abandon hopes step by step as many undocumented do until they have nothing to stand on.

You produce these stories one at a time; a voice, a face, an issue. And you let them run for the next few months.

Two – You take apart the political process, step by step. Your goal is to explain what is likely to happen and what is happening.

You look at who gives what money to what politicians – city, county, state, national – for or against immigration reform.

You measure – from what the politicians say – is the flow of voices and lobbying. Who is talking more? Who is exerting more influence?

You interview your folks in Congress and ask them to give you updates on how the process is working.

You seek out politicians on the other side of the reform issue and let them talk about their views, their scenarios and what they expect will happen.

Three – You translate what this means or will mean for people waiting for changes.

You look into the costs, the waiting time, and the legal difficulty of taking part in the reform if it passes.

You explain where to find legal help and how to make sure it is legitimate, cost efficient and accountable.

You point out the scams already targeting uninformed and unsuspecting immigrants.

You focus on the agencies that provide advise for immigrants, and let them explain what they see taking place.

You update the situation for those Dreamers and how the process is working for them.

You interview the federal officials with crucial roles in immigration policy today and report on how the process is working.

You update these reports in short, concise presentations as the political system churns on.

Four – You do not have the staff or the time or the energy to do all of this reporting.

So what do you do?

You rely on your audience, on your readers, your listeners, your followers.

You open up your websites to crowdsourcing or to bloggers who filters voices from the community. You partner with a community organization or a university’s journalism or social work department and let them help you present these voices.

You monitor and skim what people say and produce a running account of the humanity that flows into your hands. You take advantage of the great concerns about the impact of these changes to let people share their thoughts one by one digitally in print or in audio or video.

You turn to groups like the Latino Policy Forum, whose recent workshop on immigration  reform got me thinking about this, or the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), asking them to help you chart the kind of stories that will cement your coverage.

Before you give up, talk to me. This is no time to sit back

steve@chicagoistheworld. 312 369 6400













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