Help! I need an editor!

I’m at the Collaborative Journalism Summit in Philadelphia and Darryl Holliday of City Bureau is articulating something really important: Journalism organizations need to equip people in some way. They need to equip people to take action, to tell their own stories, to participate in democracy.

Read Darryl’s talk here.

It’s a really beautiful way to express something that I practice as an editor. (I even once had the chance to offer up a social media training at City Bureau itself — where I, of course, learned way more than I taught.) Among my favorite parts of building Global Nation when I worked at PRI, was offering training, support and payment to people who had great stories to tell but had long been excluded from national media. I wanted to show up for people who had questions, basic and deep, about how the media works. I wanted to give people time and resources so they could tell important stories that help the rest of us understand the news that we see around us.

Now, I am an independent journalist, coach and consultant, but I want to keep being of service. Many of you have asked me for help with pitches, copy, or just to talk about the media. I love those conversations and I want to do it more!

So here’s where you can have 30 minutes of my time for anything! Want to talk about what’s good and bad in media? Want to walk through a story idea or a pitch or the communications part of your community organizing effort? Want me to copy edit something or just read and talk about your work? I’m here for you.

If I can help, let’s find a time here!

A note to my journalist friends: If you already have an editor or access to an editor, this isn’t for you. But I still want to hear from you too! Check out this page for ways we can connect.

That time I was interviewed about Shah Rukh Khan…

Full disclaimer: This is not my area of expertise.

Which is why Ada Tseng and Brian Hu asked me to join them for the first episode of season six of their amazing Saturday School Podcast. The podcast is an exploration of Asian American pop culture, that gets into the nostalgia, the talent and the amazing people who have brought us to this powerful place, this “Crazy Rich Asians,” Mindy Kaling, Hasan Minhaj, “Fresh Off the Boat” era. This season, Ada and Brian are revisiting films from Asia that portray the US, starting with the 2003 classic “Kal Ho Naa Ho.”

I can’t remember the first time I saw a Bollywood film, but I do know that I spent a lot of time actively disliking them. It took Ada and Brian, two Taiwanese American friends, to show me the virtues of Indian blockbuster films — and more specifically, to show me the glory of Shah Rukh Khan.

(Aside: For those uninitiated in SRK, here’s a story Ada wrote for Global Nation that serves as a good primer. While this piece might send you down a rabbit hole that makes you miss your deadlines or your family obligations, it’s probably more efficient than searching the internet and scrolling through 100 Buzzfeed listicles. Unless, of course, you’re like many SRK fans and are looking for that sort of thing.)

I have a complicated relationship with Bollywood, one that is about immigration, shame, pride, joy and family all at once. Ada and Brian really got me to dig deep and tell that story. And laugh with me (at me?) along the way.

To my desi friends, my immigrant friends, to anyone who has ever felt like an oddity in the US, maybe you can relate. Is there something in your pop culture history that was really uncomfortable when you were young but became inexplicably empowering as you grew older? I’d love to hear about it.

logo for Saturday School, blue and pink text with the "oo" of "school" made with a VHS cassette.

Here’s where you can subscribe to Saturday School, which is part of the awesome Potluck Podcast Collective. It’s a wonderful, joyful journey to be part of!

Saturday School is in its sixth season — amazing! If you’re looking for a new podcast where you can show your love, check out Naomi Gingold and Jacky Ahn Yang’s startup long form narrative podcast about Asia: Not the Hello Kitty Show. (Audiophile journalist friends, they’re looking for pitches too!)

Woman standing in outdoor classroom in front of screen, gesticulating

How to hire me

I’m an editor, reporter and teacher who builds great teams and great content. I’m open to full and part-time positions and available for independent contracts in journalism, education and media strategy.

Thank you to so many of you who have sent me listings and ideas! Think I might be able to help you achieve your goals? Let’s connect on LinkedIn, or drop me a line at angshah AT cal.berkeley.edu.

Consulting: I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined Duco Experts!

One thing I’ve always loved about my career are the chances that I’ve had to help colleagues in many industries — from media to academia to private companies — navigate our complex media ecosystem and tell their stories. (This photo is me over a decade ago participating in an awesome unconference for bloggers in Phnom Penh — I learned so much from the innovative bloggers and writers there.) I can help your organization understand immigration issues and how to build narratives. I’m an expert on inclusion and have practical experience building diverse teams and giving them the resources they need to thrive. It’s an honor to be included in Duco Experts’ roster of really smart people. So if your company looking for a few moments or a few hours of my time, please do consider reaching out on this simple-to-use platform.

For larger projects, consultations or for more information, email me at angshah AT cal.berkeley.edu

Freelance editing: As an editor, I help the reporters, writers and storytellers I work with to thrive. I am a transformational editor. I will help assign and develop stories, but also help creators find their most powerful voices. I’d like to help you.

Need an editor by the word? Find me on Fiverr. For larger projects, consultations or editorial work, you can reach me at angshah AT cal.berkeley.edu

Speaking, teaching, hands-on training: My first love is to be a teacher. In fact, I think it’s essential to being a good editor. So I give a lot of my time to sharing skills and knowledge. I’m comfortable in front of large auditoriums and small working groups. Want me to speak at your event, organization or class? Get in touch: angshah AT cal.berkeley.edu

Let’s talk: Are you a colleague who wants to catch up? Do you have questions about how I can help you or your organization? I’ve been messaging many of you one-by-one to schedule times to chat, but I’m also using Calendly to help make it easier. Here’s where we can find a time to talk!

Text reads: NiemanLab, Predictions for Journalism, 2019. Headline reads: "The year news orgs say "yes" to real leaders"

It’s 2019 — time for leaders to step up in news

Like many people in the news industry who write predictions at the end of the year for NiemanLab, I wrote a prediction that is more of a hope. But it’s one based on experience.

I’m seeing talented colleagues step up to lead change in their newsrooms. And they’re doing it at a deeper level than when I first started in this profession. They are changing the budgets, structures and decision-making of their organizations. They’re building spaces in existing companies or starting their own companies to do the work.

So when NiemanLab asked me to make a prediction, mine was one in support of those leaders. The ones who see the deep, structural issues that prevent our news media from the diversity, quality and great coverage it should be providing the public.

Here’s how I explained it in NiemanLab.

There are a many other predictions in the bunch that inspire me, and have similar hopes for the news industry in 2019:

In this year’s predictions, I’m also really interested in how some smart people are thinking about news media’s relationship to Facebook. In my first job at PRI, I designed editorial social strategy for the organization, and even then, six years ago, I was dismayed by the way public media was putting their supporter’s dollars into the private company. Here are some good articulations about what happened and what might happen going forward:



What’s Angilee up to? Get emails once in a while.

“And I thought, ‘If they could only treat us and think of us the same way they do their animals … ‘ Instead, they treat us like terrorists and they think of us as bad people.”

Two brothers who spent 14 years apart sit at a kitchen table in a mobile home outside of Minneapolis. The elder one, David, looks around at the freshly painted blue walls with pride. He’s adding new window frames, flooring and appliances bit by bit to make a home for his family.

David left El Salvador on Sept. 1, 2005. He was 20 and the journey to Minnesota, where his father was living, took 22 days.

“You remember the whole trip, counting each day to get here,” he says. “We didn’t come on the plane.”

His younger brother, Josue, did take a flight. A special refugee program run by the US State Department gave him a chance to arrive legally in Minnesota. The program, which began in 2014, was intended to keep families like theirs, desperate to reunite and escape violence, from sending children on dangerous overland routes to the US border. The Central American Minors program was discontinued by the Trump administration in 2017.

Read more at PRI.org.

Can’t say it enough: Crossing the border to seek asylum is not illegal

After Vice President Mike Pence made remarks in meeting with leaders of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, I tried to clarify something on Twitter about what he said. It seems to have struck a chord — or a nerve — with many people.

There are many migrants who are not explicitly crossing the southern border without presenting themselves at checkpoints because they are fleeing violence. There are people who are trying to escape poverty to reunite with family in the US. But if Pence is talking about a “migration crisis” — a term that deserves analysis in its own right — it’s important to note that many of these migrants take the dangerous journey because they feel their lives are in danger. They are looking for safety and, often, requesting asylum.

The US is a signatory of he Refugee Convention in 1967 and asylum-seekers are protected under US law. It’s not that the US has to (or does) allow anyone who says they are afraid to stay in the country. But there is a process by which their claim is heard.

Here’s more about that process — the links in this this story can take you even deeper into the subject.

Covering immigration: What reporters get wrong and how to get it right

I’ve spent the last three years, in my position as a senior editor for Global Nation, PRI’s The World’s immigration desk, developing training material for our contributors (and amazing group of dedicated reporters — check out their work) and for reporters around the country to be able to better cover the United States’ large and complex immigration system.

As more media outlets devote time and resources to this important topic, I’m trying to help connect reporters and share what we’ve learned at Global Nation. For my part, over six years of editing the ambitious work of many journalists, I’ve found it to be a beat that is incredibly rewarding and, often, very difficult.

One resource I’ve created, which I began to formalize when Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) began asking me to host workshops, is a list of data resources. On the immigration beat, context and numbers isn’t always easy to get or understand. So this is a growing, public resource for reporters who are trying to understand the agencies involved in the US immigration system, the scope of their work, as well as demographics, trends and other issues that can help their reporting. There are now 75 places to find data listed in the spreadsheet.

Chloe Reichel at the Journalist’s Resource website asked me about the training material, as well as for some tips on immigration reporting. To do good reporting on immigration, developing a diverse staff or contributor base and being sure not to parachute into communities that are in crisis are two really important starting points. Here are some other tips I offered.

My hope is that these resources help those of you who are just getting started and those who have been on the beat longer than I have. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or ideas to improve them.

Lives on the Line: Caring for Displaced People

I was honored to help craft and lead this conversations with health care providers and a journalist about what matters most to people fleeing conflicts. I learned from the panelists, and hope you can too.

The event was hosted by Doctors Without Borders at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and was streamed online to about 9,500 people.

Among the takeaways for me? Power. Empowering people in their own lives is very important, even — especially — in situations of conflict and war.

An immigration data workshop at Investigative Reporters and Editors

There are some 320 million people in the US. 43 million of them were born abroad. About 11 million people are undocumented and over 5.1 million children have one or more undocumented parent. 860,000 people have applied for temporary legal status because they were brought to the US without proper documentation as children. Over 500,000 people are waiting for their cases to be heard in immigration courts. Some 270,000 people in the US came as refugees. On any given day, about 40,000 people are in immigration detention.

The numbers surrounding immigration can often be daunting and, sometimes, hard to track down. In this session, we’ll go through some of the most useful data sets available — and talk about some of the data that’s a bit tougher to find. We’ll talk about how to use that data to get leads on local and national stories — and what to do when the government is not providing data about its immigration actions.

IRE logoI’ll be at this year’s IRE conference in Phoenix for a June 24 workshop. Come work through the numbers — each is a person, after all — and find stories with me.