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.