A Diverse Team, A Unique Perspective

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Ecuadorians came out in force Sunday Aug. 3 2008 for their Independence Day Parade in Jackson Heights, Queens. NY·DF, La Ruta del Voto Latino – Road to the Latino Vote, was there. (Photo: Diego Graglia)

Immigration politics and policy were particularly fraught subjects during the later part of the previous decade, when I was Fi2W‘s editor. Those were the times of immigration reform floundering yet again in Congress, of anchorman Lou Dobbs’ acrimonious departure from CNN, of Sonia Sotomayor’s arrival on the Supreme Court, and of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona seeking notoriety at the expense of decency.

Working with the Feet in 2 Worlds team for nearly three years gave me the chance to cover these topics at a particularly important time. Now that I have been away from the United States for a few years, it is unfortunate to see that many of the same issues that brought immigration reform to a standstill in 2009 remain unresolved today.

Read and listen to Diego’s favorite Fi2W stories:
“Election Day Coverage: Feet In 2 Worlds Brought You The Immigrant Vote”
“La Ruta del Voto Latino: Getting Ecuadoran Immigrants to Focus on US Politics”
“Immigrant Dance Summer Special”

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Diego Graglia and Fi2W’s Technical Director Jocelyn Gonzales working on one of Diego’s first radio stories. (Photo: John Rudolph)

When I joined Feet in 2 Worlds as a fellow, producing radio features for public radio, I was already a writer covering New York City’s Hispanic communities. I wrote in English and Spanish about everything from day laborers in Brooklyn to local Latino soldiers killed in Iraq, to touring Latin American musicians, among many other topics.

Even so, reporting, scripting, and recording those stories was a wholly new and interesting experience for me. I came to understand, in addition to getting the facts from sources — what I already did as a print reporter – it was important to let people talk freely in interviews, in order to capture the fullness of their voices and personalities on tape. In the process, I became a believer in the power of audio storytelling, especially for the American immigrant story.

Covering this experience is Feet in 2 Worlds’ specialty, and one excellent example of this was our online coverage of the historic 2008 presidential election, when Barack Obama was first elected.

That summer we produced a podcast called The Road to the Latino Vote. I reported the series myself, as my now-wife and I drove from New York City to Mexico City in a beat-up Subaru. Along the way, I reported and published a live blog and Twitter feed from the road, along with a companion podcast featuring interviews with Latino activists, community leaders, and politicians from across the country. The stories helped bring to life Latinos’ hopes for change, as well as their mistrust of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

At a time when social networks had not yet become a world-changing phenomenon, our website gave a diverse team of journalists the chance to provide a unique perspective on that momentous (2008) election.

Soon after that, I became Feet in 2 Worlds’ web editor and had the thrill of editing our correspondents’ live coverage of Election Day 2008 across America. Throughout the day we ran dispatches from the polls, covering Haitians in South Florida, Caribbean and African immigrants in East Harlem, Vietnamese voters in New Hampshire, the Polish community in Brooklyn, Puerto Ricans in Detroit, Brazilians in Massachusetts, and many other communities. A light-hearted headline of one of our posts that day exemplified the spirit of our coverage: “Two Bangladeshis and An Argentinean Walk Into A Polling Place….”

The general election is November 2 - Photo: Rob Boudon/flickr

Election 2008. (Photo: Rob Boudon/flickr)

It all came to a resounding conclusion that night with Barack Obama’s victory, and Feet in 2 Worlds kept on covering the reaction in immigrant communities the following morning. At a time when social networks had not yet become a world-changing phenomenon, our website gave a diverse team of journalists the chance to provide a unique perspective on that momentous election. Being a part of that endeavor was a source of pride for each of us.

These days I live in Mexico City, where I am the editor-in-chief of Mexico’s leading business magazine. I am also the father of two very cute, if I may say so, tri-national girls: Mexican by birth, but Argentine and American by blood. The immigrant experience has become something much more important — and personal — than merely a topic to cover in my work.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

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