Yesterday, Aubrey Whelan spoke to us about her work at The Philadelphia Inquirer as a beat reporter on the opioid crisis. She explained how a lot of out of town reporters come in and describe the area as a war zone and don’t see Kensington as a regular community that happens to be experiencing a problem. She talked about the importance of making interviewees feel comfortable and safe and always asking for consent before taking photos or using their full name. She said it is always better to come into an interview with a specific intention or topic in mind before just asking questions to people that are most likely at their lowest point.
A lot of what she said mirrored what I learned in Ethics for Journalists when we learned about empathetic interviewing. She talked about how even when she covers stories about an individual or their family, it’s imperative to make it about the bigger picture and providing possible solutions. She talked about how a large number of overdoses in South Philly happen in private residences, and how prevalent the stigma is there, making it very difficult to find people to talk to about it. I’d be interested in learning how to overcome that obstacle in certain neighborhoods and helping people understand “the other side” better so solutions can be talked about and implemented.