Read “Supporting The Indy Means Supporting Young Journalists Like Me” for another young writer’s perspective.
Before I began working on The Indypendent, reporting a news story felt like an inaccessible goal. I knew I loved writing and interviewing but had never had guidance on how to truly report a story. The Indy supported me in learning to do research, interviews and to write an engaging story. Apart from these skills, the mentorship of The Indy’s Editor-in-Chief John Tarleton and partnership of photographer Sue Brisk helped me feel confident entering unknown situations, letting my curiosity lead me and hearing from people engaged in the story first-hand.
My first assignment focused on the homeless residents of the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side. After talking with John about the situation, and doing some background research, I went with Sue and spoke to those living in the Lucerne about their experiences during COVID-19 and beyond. The next day, I went on my own to a community event held in support of Lucerne homeless residents and ended up learning much more about the implications of moving residents around the city amid the pandemic.
After reporting on a few short stories, I was offered the opportunity to write a longer story — a more creative, character-driven narrative.
While tentative at first, I used what I had learned the day before, and stepped up to interview advocates, residents themselves and city officials including City Council Member Helen Rosenthal. I talked with John about what I had collected and he helped me synthesize the material and get started writing my first story.
Next, I covered a labor struggle at Brooklyn Friends School, where teachers, parents and students alike protested the school’s attempt to disband the teachers’ union. This story helped me learn more how to portray conflict, while including voices of unity that looked towards the future of the community.
After reporting on a few short stories, I was offered the opportunity to write a longer story — more character driven, narrative and creative. This was the story of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, a hospital in East Flatbush that serves mostly low-income people of color. Kingsbrook was to set be closed, despite the low number of hospital beds available in the community, and despite the ongoing pandemic. I spoke with a variety of nurses advocating for the hospital to stay open, with community residents who would be affected by the closing, and with administrators who defended the closing. I was proud to help share the experiences of nurses who had sacrificed so much during the pandemic, and the voices of individuals affected by the closing.
During each of these outings and writing processes, I learned about what made a good interview, about what information to get from research and what to get from individuals. I learned to narrow down all that I learned into a cohesive story, I made connections with neighborhood advocates, with people affected by policy decisions, and had the opportunity to share stories that had received little attention. I am grateful for the chance to jump into reporting. In 2021, I hope to do more, with the guidance of mentors at the paper.
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