LJC PIN work in November and December

Joellen Easton
Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network

Playing catchup, here.  Gremlins deleted my past post about November, so this month will be a double post.

In the last two months Changing Gears has been helping sources tell their own stories, and planning a national-scale project on Midwest out-migration.  From Sarah Alvarez:

For November I would like to highlight the work done for Michigan Radio’s “Culture of Class” series. These were non-narrated pieces used between longer pieces and in an hour-long documentary. They highlight some different views on class struggle.  In the series we hear from Rikka BosJustin Paravano and Danielle Malczewski.  We also used PIN to gather listener feedback on the series, and put those responses together in a word cloud (at right) for a web piece.

In conjunction with our ‘Empty Places’ series we launched a map on our website where our recent stories are geo-tagged, a great tool for a regional project. You can see the map on the right-hand side of our website.

We also did three “Your Story” pieces. Each of these tries to tell the story of the re-invention of the industrial Midwest through a personal lens, with economic facts and data wrapped around the narrative. There’s a story on family lending, the difficulties of renovating an old building, and my personal favorite — an audio slideshow showing what Gary, Indiana is doing with its empty buildings.

In the spirit of year end wrap ups, in December Changing Gears produced a one-hour special on how economics have affected the day-to-day lives of Illinois residentsEight people participated in the conversation, six of whom came through the Public Insight Network (participants around the table at WBEZ, at right). The voices and stories that came through were authentic and powerful. We heard from a returning vet who is optimistic about a new career, a state employee dealing with furlough days even as unemployed family members move back under her roof, and a couple forced to give up on their plans to adopt a child because they can’t sell their one bedroom condos and buy the two bedroom place regulations require.

Looking ahead, we have a preview and an appeal: In January we are launching a project to document some of the migration out of the Midwest over the past few years. We want to hear from people who have left the Midwest over the last four years. We’re curious to see where they ended up, and if they think it’s better where they are now. We would appreciate the help and participation of PIN newsrooms across the country. We are able to share any local sources that come in through this query with the local newsrooms. Here’s the query.

Fronteras, meanwhile, has found that sometimes the simplest queries can have the biggest payoff.  Nick Blumberg:

In December, we ran one of the most important stories to come from our PIN outreach yet. Through a generic “share your story” link, we met a woman (at right) who ran into unimaginable roadblocks trying to get mental health treatment for her troubled pre-teen son.

Her openness and bravery in telling her own story are a great example of the kinds of people we can meet using the PIN. Check out her story here.

Joellen Easton Business Development Manager
Public Insight Network
Joellen Easton gets to chart the next mission for PIN: New ways to use the network for meeting information needs, with new partners and new technologies. All shiny objects cross her desk.

Her background is in anthropology, and she has produced for WGBH, PRI’s The World, and as a freelancer. She first worked with PIN at Marketplace as a PIN analyst for four years, and after that as partners manager for three years, leading the training and support team. She is degreed from Tufts and MIT.