What I Learned About Covering Trumps Immigration Ban
Thinking and learning about this prevelant issue over the course of the past few weeks has led me to understand the extent of the sensitivity of the immigration issue. Covering this issue opened my eyes to the modern immigrant experience.I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about the topic of the immigration ban from people who experience the backlash of it firsthand.It gave me an opportunity to hear what it is like to be from a culture that is frequently disrespected and used as a scapegoat by people in power. It is an issue that is deeply felt on a personal level by those who are immigrants or those who come from immigrant families. It is especially something that is felt by those who are from, or who have family who are from, the seven countries that Trump has banned.
I emailed as many students whose nationality fall under these seven countries that i could find contact information for. Only one of those students responded to me. I understand the unresponsiveness and cannot blame them. Already, Trump has taken big strides to enforce deportation, as detailed by this New York Times Article. Students fear that if they speak out about the ban, their families may be targeted. People who were hoping to seek refuge in America have already been prevented from entering the country, as detailed by this article from CNN. The sensitivity of this issue alerted me to proceed with caution, understanding, and kindness when speaking to potential interviewees in order to avoid inadvertently offending anyone.
In addition to coming to terms with the sensitivity of the topic, I also learned that immigration, even more so in regards to what is happening with the ban, is as complicated as it is sensitive. I learned more about the reason why it is currently so complicated. That reason has a lot to do with out current president. I read an article from the Atlantic called, “The Mind of Donald Trump”. I found that it helped me to understand why he is the way he is, why he is taking such drastic actions in regard to immigration, and why he has such an effect on the people around him. I learned to stay as informed as possible on the issue and read news about it every day. This way I ensured I knew my subject well and was able to stay on top of the information I was covering. It also helped me avoid sounding phony to the people I interviewed since I actually was well rehearsed on the matter at hand.
Another major thing I learned while covering immigration is the importance of being prepared for an interview. This importance grows with the relevance of the issue at hand. Since immigration is extremely relevant, preparedness was an importance factor I considered. One of the students I interviewed for my story was Sudanese. I was worried that if I did not know enough about him beforehand I may possibly offend him by making assumptions about his culture or how the ban has affected him. To ensure that I did not appear disrespectful I looked up the correct pronunciation of his name beforehand, double checked his nationality, and looked up a brief history on Sudan. I did research to find out his major as well as what organizations he was part of on campus. The interview went well and I was happy that I did my research beforehand, especially when he told me people often make assumptions about him just because he is Sudanese. If I had not prepared myself for the interview I could have accidentally offended him by coming off as ignorant. I often used Poynter’s, “How Journalists Can Become Better Interviewers”, as a reference point to look back at when I mulled over the interview process.
Finally, with this story. I learned how important it is as a journalist to be aware and ready to observe. Aware of what is going on in the world as well as what is happening on your own college campus. The American Press Institute explains in this article, how journalists must be committed observers who observe the community from a different perspective. If I had not been alert and keeping my eyes peeled for events related to immigration happening on campus I would never have heard about the UMass Sanctuary Movement. I never would have been able to attend and observe one of their rallies. I never would have gone to a discussion hosted by a panel of journalism professors discussing the failures of the profession during the Trump era. If I had not been reading the news everyday and keeping up to date on the immigration topic then I would have been ill-informed for my article and it would show through my writing. If I had not been aware and in class everyday, then I would not even know what I was doing with this entire project!
Being aware is also something that helps you to gain new contacts and potential subjects for stories. Going to events, talking to people, and networking are all things that are necessary to writing a good in-depth story. These things can seem daunting to people such as myself who are naturally introverted and quiet. After covering this topic and attending more events, contacting more people, and reaching out more than I ever have before in relation to a story, I find that it now seems a lot less intimidating to me. From now on I will continue to tell myself that it could benefit my story in the long run and even if it does not end up being essential to my story-it is good practice for the future.