Can Black Lives Matter change minds in the suburbs? | Morning Newsletter

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Rodrigues: My background before coming to The Inquirer was in broadcast journalism. I didn’t study journalism in college but I had been interested in working behind the scenes in television and ended up working on the production team of a TV newsmagazine program. I really fell in love with news and documentary storytelling. One big difference from a typical reporter is video editing. We conduct interviews just like reporters, but, of course, they’re filmed. Once I finish interviews and any other filming on a project, I write a script and edit the footage. It’s technical work but also very creative because it’s where it all comes together — sound bites, b-roll, music, and voice-over.

Hardnett: Video is such a powerful medium, and it can communicate emotion and experience in a visceral way. It’s also a format that requires much of the same processes as print journalism: research, reporting, interviewing, writing, editing. One difference, I would say, is the amount of time we have to spend in person with our sources to film them and the amount of trust that takes.

Hardnett: Astrid very much led the initiative for this video and brought the idea to me the day after the storm swept through. We decided I would interview the Red Cross, while she focused on getting neighborhood reaction.

Rodrigues: The residents I’ve talked to have lots of concerns. They’ll never be able to recover some things lost in the flooding, like photos, but they worry about how they’ll pay to repair their homes and whether the mold left behind is dangerous to their health. There are people who want to know what the city is doing to prevent future flooding. Longtime residents have seen floods come through before, and they say the city has been studying the area for decades but flooding is still a problem. They want to know if they’ll be safe during the next big storm. As for the contaminated soil, the EPA has been working for years to clean up the neighborhood, and the work is still in progress. Some chemicals in the soil can cause cancer or other health risks so it’s urgent work.

Hardnett: Eastwick was definitely one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods by the flood, and seeing the footage from the day of the storm was surreal. More than 350 people stayed in Red Cross shelters, and a lot of them are still in need of long-term recovery. It’s a neighborhood that doesn’t tend to get as much attention as other parts of the city, so reporting on Tropical Storm Isaias’ impact there felt like an important responsibility to take on.

Rodrigues: I wish people knew the amount of research and background information that goes into our work. I’m always striving to produce pieces that are informative and factual. That means the editing has to be responsible as well. My job is fun and rewarding, but it’s also hard work.

Hardnett: I think when a lot of people think of videojournalists, they think of broadcast reporters with tight turnarounds and short, faced-paced news clips. As video producers for The Inquirer, we approach storytelling differently. We are journalists and filmmakers — but I think more than anything, we are conduits for people to elevate their stories with their own voices. I’m really proud of our work here because when we sit down with our sources, we’re not just soliciting sound bites — we’re giving folks space to share their authentic truths with us, and taking the time to present those truths in the most thoughtful and sincere way possible.

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