Compelling immigration journalism and emerging practices to connect with multiethnic communities.
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Migratory Notes 2: A pop-up immigration newsletter

We sent out our first Migratory Notes last week, and were thrilled to receive enthusiastic responses from across the country and as far away as Russia and Chile. It was apparent that while we created this pop-up newsletter for journalists, not only journalists are interested. If you know of people who may be, here’s the subscribe form and here’s an archive on Medium.


Please help us out in our efforts to try and highlight exceptional coverage and emerging reporting techniques to connect with multiethnic communities. We realize this is in no way a complete list. Got a great one to add, please let us know - send us an email, or you can add one on this form.


Straight-up amazing reporting

This American Life transported listeners to a refugee camp in Kenya where a meeting was taking place explaining to Somali refugees who were on the brink of moving to the United States -- many of whom had waited decades, sold all their belongings and gone into debt -- that they may now be denied entry. The Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff captures the voice of the local aid worker explaining “this is a bitter pill and we can’t do anything about it.”


After days of stories about immigrants barred from entering the U.S., the story changed, for a moment, to joyful and relieved arrivals. Miriam Jordan and Shibani Mahtani provided a beautiful narrative in The Wall Street Journal about the family reunions for three different refugees in Boise, Phoenix and Chicago, weaving in the history of the program and the drastic reductions set to come under the Trump administration.


The Marshall Project’s Christie Thompson tells the story of a man who was exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years for rape and is now facing deportation to Haiti, where he has not been since he was 17. She reminds readers that this was his fate under former President Obama, and now President Trump is implementing more severe regulations.


As an apparent shift in enforcement policy took hold on Wednesday and Thursday, Fernanda Santos of the New York Times was on the scene with a woman facing deportation after she showed up to meet with immigration officials, providing video updates throughout as protests broke out. When the woman was deported the next day, Santos went with the children to Nogales, Mexico to visit their mother and did a powerful Facebook live interview in Spanish and English.


How are these decisions made?

For Rewire, Tina Vasquez investigates how an official representing a U.S. Border Patrol Union, which backed Trump’s campaign, is claiming credit for the travel ban.    


Providing context

When the executive orders on immigration were released (in what feels like ages ago), publications got creative explaining them to their readers. Most focused on the consequences for refugees and travelers from the seven banned predominantly Muslim countries.


Global Nation at Public Radio International's The World had a team of historians break it down with extensive notes and contextual links, as well as an audio interview. Vox turned to an immigration attorney. The NY Times approach was to summarize and add answers to key questions. NPR had its reporters annotate the text, similar to what it did during the debates.


Julia Preston, at the Marshall Project, “decoded” elements that often did not make it to other coverage, explaining how “the administration was laying the groundwork for a vast expansion of the nation’s deportation system.”


As the temporary stay on the ban became national news, the appeals court hearing was livestreamed, with many outlets featuring the audio along with a live blog of running commentary. Favorite comment: "Who knew that legal arguments about immigration authorities could be so riveting?" @EricLichtblau   


Protecting your sources?

The New York Times faced criticism for Patricia Leigh Brown’s profile of efforts to protect California undocumented college students which revealed their dorm room numbers. NYT Public Editor Liz Spayd weighed in on the controversy, writing that journalists would not typically include a source’s home address in a story. The reporter said she now regrets the decision but newsroom editors stand by the decision claiming that the university building is secure. Fusion's Jorge Rivas outlined the controversy, writing that some of the students have changed rooms for safety reasons.


Visualize the migration

The Washington Post looks at the history of the border, showcasing images Dororthea Lange captured of the area in the 1930s. The New York Times tried show what it's like today, before the wall is extended. As part of their daily 360 degree VR reporting you can actually feel like you're there with the kids on their swings that sway where a wall may soon stand.


Not journalists, but doing journalism?

On Medium, a U.S. citizen who called himself “Sleepless in Texas”, wrote a moving account of being separated from his wife, an Iranian green card holder. The author does not reveal his identity, so it is hard to verify, but the personal elements are very compelling. A historian, H. Robert Baker, wrote a “brief” history of sanctuary movements for Tropics of Meta: historiography for the masses.


Some of Daniela’s students are tracking local ethnic media coverage of immigration issues. Carolyn Hogikyan wrote about how Armenian media, which she initially found to be very supportive of Trump, appeared to shift with the travel ban.


Immigration is an international issue

In India, #H1B has been trending on Twitter as tech workers are concerned that their opportunities to work in the United States will be denied (BBC Asia). In Mexico, policy initiatives are moving forward to provide deported undocumented students an opportunity to continue their education (Animal Politico). And in Canada, asylum seekers are arriving on foot through the snow from the U.S. (Guardian).


Job and internship opportunities

With all the focus on immigration has come new job opportunities in immigration reporting and policy. Here are a few:

•       Immigration Reporter — Marshall Project

•       Immigration Reporter | Race/ Related Editor — New York Times
Director, Immigrant Rights & Integration—Haas Foundation

•      Investigations Editor—Reveal (not explicitly immigration, but they do a lot on the topic).


That’s it for Migratory Notes #2. Let us know what you think. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. And what would you like to see here? We know we are missing lots of great stories. Even as we write this so many are being published. Let us know, and we’ll share them back here!


Thank yous to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here’s a few: Global Nation Exchange FB group, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Jo Ellen Kaiser, Minerva Canto and various members of the Media Consortium.


*Daniela Gerson is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge with a focus on community, ethnic, and participatory media. She is also a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund. Before that she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; founding editor of a trilingual hyperlocal publication, Alhambra Source; staff immigration reporter for the New York Sun; and contributor to outlets including WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times and others. She wrote most recently for CNN on grandchildren of survivors, and what Kushner could teach Trump about the Holocaust. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson


*Elizabeth Aguilera is a multimedia reporter for CALmatters covering health and social services, including immigration. Previously she reported on community health, for Southern California Public Radio. She’s also reported on immigration for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she won a Best of the West award for her work on sex trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico; and before that she covered a variety of beats and issues for the Denver Post including urban affairs and immigration. Her latest story looked at how California’s undocumented kids could be the first to lose medical care under Trump. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

Photo credit: Dorothea Lange/ Library of Congress

Copyright © 2017 Migratory Notes: A pop-up immigration newsletter, All rights reserved.

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