A Bad Idea for a Good Reason

Sometimes, when you get an idea in your head, it is best to let it sit a while before you tell anyone about it. In fact, you may find that you would rather NOT tell anyone about it. I know this, but I do not always practice it. I am a journalist, after all. It is my job to tell stories, and to inform the public about the things they should be aware of. Maybe, however, I should reconsider what that means.

I recently received an assignment for my “Reporting Across Media” class that should have been easy: cover the Hispanic Service Providers Network meeting in Tuscaloosa and write a story from a certain angle regarding the Latino community. This is supposed to train us in diversity journalism. Sounds like a no-brainer, especially at this point in my career, right? Well, not exactly.

If you have read any of my previous posts, you will be aware of two things: I am a print journalist who is struggling a bit with this multimedia thing, and I just began digging into Alabama’s new immigration law. So when this assignment came up, I jumped at the chance to do a story furthering my previous blog post about the effects of HB56 on reconstruction efforts in Tuscaloosa. See, this is where I need to let ideas sit for a while.

It sounds like a good idea in theory; the reality was something a bit different. First, I didn’t take into account what the HSP Network actually does. The network supports Tuscaloosa’s Hispanic community with regard to employment, charity, health care, education and the like, and it provides an invaluable service. It does not, however, provide much of a framework for a story about illegal immigrants and the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa. I went to the meeting and took video and pictures, but I quickly decided I was going to have to work on a different multimedia angle.

The story part was supposed to be the easy one. I’ll just do what I’ve always done- make some calls, do some interviews, write a story. Again, not exactly. HB56, in September, was a very contentious and controversial topic (come to think of it, it still is.) Finding the sources to develop a well-rounded story proved rather difficult. Finding an employer to discuss undocumented workers, or finding an illegal immigrant who was willing to talk about HB56, proved impossible, actually. In the end, I found a few people who were very cooperative, and I had to rely on press statements for a couple of things. It isn’t my favorite way to do things, but the point was made.

The next step was the multimedia part. Did I mention I am a print journalist? Standups, if you can’t  already tell, are NOT my thing. I am  uncomfortable on camera and I get so nervous I forget what I am  supposed to say. But, unfortunately, the video from the HSP Network  meeting did not work for my story, so I had to come up with something. Why not just add some pictures, you may ask? I did. Actually, I  got some  pretty decent ones to drive home the image of the devastation and the silent bulldozers and backhoes that  may be in  Tuscaloosa’s future.

However, the other unfortunate part is that I told my professor that I wanted to work on my standups, so in the spirit of progressing, I am supposed to develop a better presence on camera. Not having other video, I came up with a short concept that plays into the story I did. I am not so very proud of it that I am willing to share it within the news story I did, but I did actually do better than my last, so I will share it here.

The story itself is about reconstruction efforts in Tuscaloosa, and the effect of the Hispanic exodus caused by HB56, also known as the Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, the harshest immigration law in the country. The video is just a little bit of practice for me that asks the question “What happens if the machines stop moving?”

The finished product of the actual news story is available on Dateline Alabama here:

HB56 May Slow the Rebuilding of Tuscaloosa

I’d love to know what you think (but not about the video!) And check back, because this speaking before I think things through came back to haunt me AGAIN in the next assignment.


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