Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the article "Across the country, newsrooms are using crowdsourcing to cover immigration," published on Poynter.org. GroundSource was founded by 2016-2017 RJI Fellow Andrew Haeg.  

While the refugee ban and protests at airports made news throughout the weekend, here’s how a few news organizations across the country told the stories of their immigrant communities. 


Like many journalists around the country, Connor Sheets has watched newsroom resources dry up over time. Now, AL.com investigative reporter is trying to build a network to keep coverage of diverse communities from drying up, too.

Sheets, a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, is working on a program to find and train people connected to different demographic groups. Those people will serve as deputies, communicating what they’re seeing with the newsroom through a messaging platform called GroundSource.

Sheets is trying to find deputies in several communities, including the rural poor and undocumented immigrants. He doesn’t want to rely on organizations or advocacy groups, preferring community members willing to work as a bridge for the newsroom.

Sheets has 30 deputies already, six of which are assigned to immigration. They help establish relationships, tear down language barriers and help reporters understand how issues are playing out in that community.

He hasn’t tested out how it all works, although it would have been helpful last weekend, he said. He’s hoping he can prove that the approach is scaleable so other journalists can use it, too.

The main goal is to create a way for journalists to know what’s happening in different communities from people willing to help them stay connected, he said.

“It’s eyes and ears,” he said.

Read the full article


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