Friday, November 2, 2007

ICFJ Training: How Do You Spell Success?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Journalism funders invest a lot of money in initiatives aimed at improving the quality and depth of reporting on pressing current issues. But how do we measure the impact of a given single event?

No two programs are just alike, so comparisons are difficult. But a quick look at the 8-day training in immigration coverage that the International Center for Journalists hosted back in April offers clues to what makes a program successful. The 21 journalists – from throughout Latin America and the U.S. - who participated attended sessions with policy experts, conducted site visits in the DC area and even created a group blog where they posted stories for months following the training. And since the conference took place, the listserv ICFJ created has been crackling, with more than 600 emails between participants.

But the volume of coverage that resulted from the program gives an even better indication of its impact. Some of the highlights:

+ Vanessa Colon of The Fresno Bee wrote stories that, for the first time, included voices of the anti-immigration movement, including one on conservative Latinos and their thoughts on immigration.
+ Ruben Tapia of KPFK 90.7 FM in California created a radio news promo intended to help undocumented immigrants know their legal rights if detained by authorities.
+ In an example of cross-border reporting, program participants Jesus Angulo of El Imparcial of Mexico and Valeria Fernandez of La Voz in Phoenix collaborated on covering a controversial case in Arizona about a Mexican tourist who was repatriated from a hospital to Hermosillo.
+ Edward Sifuentes of San Diego’s North County Times and Matt O’Brien of the Daily Review in suburban San Francisco also worked together on an investigative story about a donor to a San Diego congressman who used political clout to have the immigration status of his own employees investigated.
+ Auxiliadora Rosales of Nicaragua’s largest newspaper, La Prensa, reported on a case involving an adolescent girl who was separated from her single father after he was deported from Miami back to Nicaragua. The story was covered extensively in Central America, raising alarm about the complex issue of separating families after deportation of parents.

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