As you know, immigration is a hot topic. The spectrum of public opinion ranges from throw the bums out to complete amnesty for those who crossed our border illegally.
Though many of our newsrooms are in communities with many undocumented immigrants, some of us struggle with covering that segment of our community. Sometimes it is a language barrier. Sometimes people who are here illegally don’t see the wisdom in advertising that in the local newspaper. Sometimes, I suspect, we merely have a cultural divide.
I’ve been thinking of ways we might bridge that gap and satisfy our call for a new editorial project in the second quarter of 2017. I have an idea: What if you gave a few immigrants disposable cameras for a week and then used the results as a basis for a feature story or a string of Instagram posts or a once-a-day Facebook post?
Doing so would solve a couple of problems. It would bring home a national story. It would put a face on people you might not be covering well. It would add photos to your newspaper. It would attract the participants (and their friends and relatives) to your paper. It might even give you ideas for more stories down the road. …
It looks like you can get cameras for less than $10 online or at Walmart. Processing would probably double that. I bet if you found five people — maybe a young kid, a high school student, a stay-at-home mother, a working dad, an older person — you would have a dozen or more really interesting photos.
Why would you do this?
I think one of our charges is to point to our shared humanity. Too often our coverage tears us apart merely because that is how news behaves. We cover people at their best and at their worst and too often ignore the vast middle that is our readership. This is a way to cover people who haven’t just been arrested but aren’t on the honor roll either. Illuminating their lives through photography could tell an important story in your community.