Newspaper Crowdsourcing for Funds to Explore the Lives of H1B Workers08 Oct 2015
Here in the United States, in the midst of a long, drawn-out election season, immigration may make for good political fodder. However, such discussions frequently ignore the reality of what it is like for the actual immigrants caught in the crossfire. Their stories mostly go unheard. But a new start-up journalism company, based in California, is working to change that by partnering with a newspaper to profile the lives of H1B workers and how they have been impacted by the national controversy over immigration reform.
Beacon is an online-based journalism source that relies on donations submitted by readers and subscribers from all over the world to support its various projects. In September, the company announced that it had partnered with a major newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, to raise $15,000 in donations to support a multimedia series on the lives of H1B workers. [See The Faces Behind the H1B Debate.]
While most mainstream media coverage seems to focus on the pros and cons of raising the cap on H1B workers, The San Francisco Chronicle instead is choosing to focus on the everyday lives of H1B workers in the Bay area. The series also hopes to cover what it is like to be a foreign national applicant with dreams of making it to the United States with an H1B visa in hand. In a statement released by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Audrey Cooper, she indicated that the proposed multimedia project will first explore immigration issues regionally in California, and then expand its scope to the domestic and international spheres: “From here in the Bay area, we can tell part of the story of how the region’s tech boom has come into conflict with U.S. immigration policy … this innovative crowdfunding approach will allow us to employ freelance journalists with expertise in international reporting while keeping our own reporters dedicated to … telling the stories that surface here, near our homes.” [See Chronicle Announces Crowdfunded Immigration Project, by Audrey Cooper, The San Francisco Chronicle, 16.Sep.2015]
Whether the ambitious proposal ever comes to fruition, however, remains to be seen. According to Beacon’s WebSite, less than half of the $15,000 needed to fund the series has been raised, and the project will only commence if the financial goal is met by the October 16th deadline. Meanwhile, the debate over immigration rages on, making it all the more critical that the voices of those most affected by immigration reform – the actual immigrants – have their voices heard. Now more than ever, they need what the first editor of the San Francisco Chronicle promised its readers more than a century ago: reporting that is “alarmingly enterprising, startlingly original, honest, and fearless.”
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