April 21-23, 2013
One in four children in the United States are immigrants or the child of immigrants. The Immigration in the Heartland fellowship program will explore the economic and educational challenges these children face and how immigration policies have deeply impacted them, even though about 88 percent are U.S. citizens.
The conference will include talks by experts, hands-on data and investigative reporting training and field trips. “Our program will provide journalists with information, context and reporting techniques so they can produce richer stories about immigrant children and families in their communities,” said Phuong Ly, IJJ’s executive director.
As part of their applications, journalists must propose an enterprise project on immigrant children to be undertaken through the fellowship for publication or broadcast. Each fellow will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the story project.
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University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Communication
395 W. Lindsey
Norman, OK 73019 [directions]
This was the first year that our training has focused on children and families, and the emphasis gave a more human dimension to our immigration discussion, moving beyond politics and policy.
Sociologist Joanna Dreby, who has followed groups of immigrant families for three years, said that some children have internalized the negative politics so much that the term “illegal” has become a slur they use. We visited Santa Fe South Schools, where students talked about how they are coping and thriving despite the limbo and fear that many families face.
Our visit to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial was particular poignant this year, coming soon after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Immigrants and particularly Muslims were accused and interrogated after the Oklahoma tragedy in 1995, and it was later learned that the bombing was the work of two white native-born Americans. Yet even to this day, said speaker Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, Muslims are not invited to the annual interfaith service that honors Oklahoma bombing victims.
I filled notepads with new story ideas and issues I hadn’t thought to look into before. I walked away with a long list of resources and the names of several journalists to take inspiration from.
"Reporters at my paper are seldom given the opportunity to complete longer investigative projects, and this fellowship helped inspire me to look into the issues and spend more time with my sources than I normally could."
The IJJ training helped me to think in a more personal way about the day-to-day experiences of immigrant families, not just looking at the headline-grabbing protests surrounding immigration reform.