Since September, the Decibel Team set out on a new mission to become a community-led reporting initiative. We began this community journalism project focusing on the Asian American community, and as a part of this process, we’ve hosted several virtual community events to get feedback on our work.
So, more than five months in, how did we do?
One thing that we’ve struggled with in the past is outreach. We’ve had a limited amount of people show up to previous events and have tended to see the same recurring participants. This event was no different. We ended up with only three attendees, two of which have participated in similar events prior. Once again, we failed to attract a large audience and will be looking at how to improve our outreach methods in the future.
Despite the low turnout, we pushed forward with the event, which ended up eliciting some great conversations about how to improve our work. We screened four stories including, ‘I Thought I Was The Only Asian American DACA Recipient Out There’, The Life Witness, Asian American Business Owners Talk Covid-19 Impact and Teaching Resilience. After we showed each piece, we had participants rate the overall storytelling on a scale from 1 to 5.
We started off by showing the voices packages featuring Asian American DACA recipients. One attendee rated the storytelling as “excellent” while two rated the storytelling as “good”.
Most of our guests said that the story needed to provide background information behind why Asian American DACA students aren’t heard from more often.
“We didn’t go into depth as to why there are so few,” a guest said.
“I feel like there should be a sequel,” another guest said.
The written portion of the DACA Voices piece does give more details about the low rate of Asian American DACA students and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. We only got feedback in the event on our video stories, but in the future we may include excerpts from our written stories, since they provide a different perspective on an issue.
More people voted “excellent” than “good” for both The Life Witness and the Business Owners Voices stories. Guests appreciated the diverse types of business owners but would have liked to have seen more about how they are adapting to the pandemic rather than being affected by it.
For Teaching Resilience, a story about how a local teacher is adapting to the pandemic, one attendee rated the coverage as “excellent” while two rated the coverage “good”. Our guests said that we missed the opportunity to highlight how parents and students are being affected by the pandemic.
For our final discussion, we wanted to know the attendee’s thoughts on Decibel’s overall community coverage. Our final poll asked the same question we have been asking throughout this journey. ‘“How would you rate Decibel’s coverage of the Asian American community?” During our first listening session, 18% of attendees rated our coverage of their community as ‘fair.’
This time, no one voted “fair” or below. Which means we are making improvements. However, our small turnout did not allow us to hear from more than just a few people so that had an impact on the results as well. In our conversation, guests stressed the importance of raising awareness about the stigma that some Asian Americans face when living a lifestyle outside of their family's expectations. They also suggested shedding light on leaders who step outside of these cultural restrictions and norms.
“I never really identified with my culture because I did not want to be affected by it,” one attendee said.
Another suggested improvement for our work was to talk about the generational difference that exists with members of the Asian American community. One participant suggested we focus on older members of the community and how they struggle with relating to younger generations within their families. We have produced stories that focus on that generational difference, but all of our stories have focused on relatively younger people who are forging a new path for themselves and not necessarily on how this struggle might affect parents or grandparents within a family.
In the end, while participation was low, we had a meaningful discussion about our work and walked away with new ideas on how to improve our storytelling. We know these feedback events are making our reporting stronger, more dynamic and reflective of the community, but still need to work on gathering a larger, more diverse audience for feedback.
Got story ideas, advice on how we can improve our reporting or just want to know more about what we do? Reach out to us at email@example.com.
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