By Evelyn Moreno, Minhee Son, and Andrea Wenzel
For community organizations, sharing stories about community issues and the work you do is often an important goal. But it can also be frustrating. You may be doing important work that is making a difference, but getting reporters to cover that work can be a challenge. A team from USC Annenberg—Evelyn Moreno and Minhee Son from the MetaConnects team, and journalism trainers Daniela Gerson and Andrea Wenzel—organized two workshops to try and make this process a little easier. As part of the Storytelling in South Los Angeles project, we brought together community organizations and reporters to discuss the storytelling process and brainstorm ideas for community-based coverage of issues facing South LA.
At the first workshop, journalism trainers Daniela Gerson and Andrea Wenzel worked with community experts from All Peoples Community Center, Community Coalition, TRUST South LA, Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Esperanza Community Housing, and Community Health Councils to develop their story ideas into a “pitch” that could be presented to media reporters during the second workshop. While the goal was to highlight some of the positive initiatives taking place in the community as we near the 50th Anniversary of the Watts Riots, participants were also introduced to the idea of solutions-oriented journalism.
Participants were prompted to think about the following:
Reporters from LA Opinion, LA Sentinel, HOY, The LA Wave, KPCC, and Intersections South LA joined in our efforts to bring together community organizers with reporters and provide a networking opportunity for both sides. We worked towards continuing to sensitize participants to solutions-oriented reporting; and for the community organizations to pitch the stories developed from the first workshop to the reporters.
We played a game of ‘speed pitching’, inspired by the concept of speed dating, where community experts introduced themselves to reporters and pitched what they believe to be a solutions-oriented story.
At the end of the day, journalists explained how their inboxes are often inundated with pitches. One said that had he not had the opportunity to get to know some of these organizations he may have overlooked similar pitches. The experience of the workshop showed him that a bit of probing and questioning can lead to the development of a good story. Our community organization participants pointed out that this networking opportunity helped attach faces to names, and will make it easier to reach out to one another. Hopefully, this workshop can be a starting point for future relationship-building between individual community experts and media reporters as they continue their work in the South Los Angeles community.
We invite you to the Public Forum on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 @ 5PM
taking place at the USC Wallis Annenberg Hall.
We will share the stories that the participating reporters produce as a result of this program.
Stories will be distributed through participating media outlets in the coming weeks.
For more information and to RSVP for the Public Forum, please follow the link.