Tuesday’s guest speaker, Aubrey Whelan, is a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer who covers the opioid crisis in and around Philadelphia. She gave us invaluable tips on how to approach people for interviews and how to let them lead the conversation to avoid asking intrusive or triggering questions while still getting fruitful interviews. She also reminded us to remain human. That is, she spoke of the importance of gauging someone’s willingness to speak or have their photos taken while remaining sensitive to the fact that their privacy is more important than using them as a source for a story. She also spoke of the importance of consent, and more specifically informed and enthusiastic consent.
Whelan also made a point to humanize the Kensington neighborhood. She said multiple times that it is a neighborhood like any other where people live, work, and where children go to school. She said, essentially, that outside coverage of the neighborhood is often done irresponsibly and in a way that romanticizes the perceived dangers of the neighborhood, while completely erasing those living there who do not have substance use disorders or who are not living without long-term shelter.