Telling Great Stories while Balancing on Media’s Cutting Edge

East Haven

A protester holds an American flag during a rally for immigrant rights in East Haven, CT; photo: Sarah Kate Kramer/Next American City

Incredibly, the stories I covered in my time as a fellow at Feet in 2 Worlds in 2007 and then as editor in 2008 are still relevant today. Immigration reform is still unresolved. Deportations have reached a record high under the Obama administration. The Dream Act still has not become a law. The presidential candidates for 2016 are announcing their campaigns, and immigration is still “a hot button issue.”

Aswini Anburajan was Fi2W’s first web editor. Her essay is part of a celebration of our 10th anniversary.

The political tug-of-war behind the issues Feet in 2 Worlds covers hasn’t changed, but how we tell those stories and how readers consume them have. Mobile phones, online video, messaging apps, memes, and GIFs. Podcasts and audio narratives — the heart of Feet in 2 Worlds’ approach to storytelling – are more popular than ever before. New start-ups supporting audio-based storytelling are even attracting venture capital investment.

Read Ashwini’s favorite Fi2W stories:
“Are Employers Paying a Price for Illegal Immigration?”
“One Year After Immigration Raid, Postville, Iowa Struggles to Survive”

The powers that be in today’s media landscape were unheard of in 2008. So-called millennials get their news from BuzzFeed, Mic, The Skimm, Vice, and Vox. Images and video are the driving forces that propel stories into the viral heights of social media. Sharing and peer recommendations are key parts of content discovery. Facebook is the front page of the newspaper for many Americans under 30.

Aswini Anburajan speaking at a forum at The New School sponsored by Feet in 2 Worlds; photo: Jocelyn Gonzales, Fi2W

Feet in 2 Worlds has always been on the cutting edge of these media shifts, working to combine the best new technology tools with strong narrative reporting. We did this in 2008, during my editorial tenure, when we used a blog-based format to report on that landmark presidential election from the perspectives of different ethnic communities across the country. Our goal was to drive traffic to our stories by targeting our blog posts to interest-based communities — a strategy that is now seen as a standard editorial practice in any newsroom.

More Fi2W story recommendations from Aswini:

“Connecticut Back in Crosshairs of Immigration Debate: Priest Arrested For Videotaping Police”
“A Muslim Love Story: Bridging Differences to Make a Marriage”

The only thing missing from our election coverage were the Periscopes, Meerkats, and Snapchats of the world, which would have allowed us to communicate more intimately with our audience and literally share the “experience” of reporting these stories.

That’s why the future is so bright for Feet in 2 Worlds. We occupy a unique niche and have established an authoritative voice. The stories we publish are still timely, accurate, engaging, and important to the communities we cover. But now we have even better tools to help us share our work with an even wider audience — tools that no one could have imagined just seven years ago, during my time as editor.

It’s a winning combination that’s all too rare among journalism organizations.

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