Journalists said they are always looking for stories. Community leaders said that getting media attention is never easy.
Both sides agreed that Wednesday night’s meeting at the Norris Square Civic Association should be the first in a continuing process to help journalists better understand stories, key issues and best practices for reporting on Norris Square, North Philadelphia and Latino communities across the city.
Members of the press were invited to participate in the discussion, which was organized by the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University and moderated by Temple Journalism Professor George Miller.
Philadelphia Daily News Editor Michael Days, Axis Philly Editorial Director Carla Robinson, and Tim Wisniewski, the city’s new Director of Civic Technology, listened as community leaders focused on issues including labor, education and evolving communities.
Miller’s first question asked community participants if they were satisfied with coverage in the Philadelphia media, and Norris Square Civic Association President Patricia DeCarlo firmly responded “No,” criticizing a lack of complexity in reporting, the prevalence of “quickies” over substantive stories, and newsroom preoccupations with speed over accuracy.
Several speakers challenged monolithic views and narratives of Latinos in Philadelphia, reminding reporters of the spectrum of cultural diversity, and suggesting that all could look to the future as well as the past. Others expressed feelings that their community is recognized only in coverage of violence and sensationalistic incidents.
When Miller brought up the challenges faced by media organizations working with shrinking staffs in recent years, Izzy Colon of Northeast Philadlephia suggested newsroom reorganizations, utilizing Latino journalism students and helping citizens find better access to newsrooms. Others suggested more newsroom diversity, more bilingual reporters and specifically training young journalists in with a better understanding of Philadelphia demographics.
The group concluded that more conversations would best address the ongoing transformations in community and media ecosystems, planned to meet at least once more, and to consider quarterly meetings after that.
Wednesday’s event was the third in a series aimed at improving and increasing local coverage of issues that affect diverse communities in Philadelphia, and followed previous discussions at the Asian Arts Initiative and Mother Bethel congregation.
The Center for Public Interest Journalism was created in 2010 to support programming and projects intended to improve the quantity and quality of public interest news and information in the Greater Philadelphia area.