This month, in anticipation of the 2016 elections, Making Contact launched Putting Immigrant Voices on the Air, an ambitious media project determined to answer one significant question: “What are immigrants saying about politics?”
“While politicians are spreading misinformation about immigration, we’re asking you—our community—to help us tell the stories of the everyday people who are talked about but rarely heard from.”
This effort needs your support.
The organization plans to hire “a team of radio journalists rooted in immigrant communities to explore how immigrants are responding to and participating in the 2016 election.” This team will produce nine radio features to be distributed both to stations and online.
Making Contact invites all Pacifica Affiliates to submit story ideas and encourages inquiries from freelancers with interest in the project. Contributors from diverse communities are essential to the project’s success.
Currently crowdfunding this initiative, the organization must raise $40,000 by October 9. All pledges, thanks to both Beacon and the Berwick Family Foundation, will be matched 2 to 1…but only if the funding goal is met. As of September 25, with just 14 days left, funding is 58% complete.
“Our target is 20 stations pledging $250 or more and/or 10 stations pledging $500 or more,” says Elsa Eder, a Beacon sponsor for the project. “We’re hoping each station encourages two or three others to pledge.” A $20 contribution funds one hour of research; $100 provides studio time to mix sound; $1000 puts first person stories on air.
Some contributions from community stations have already been pledged, and particular appreciation goes out for early support from WOMR (John Braden), KHOI (Ursula Ruedenberg), and KIDE (Joseph Orozco). Faced with a fast-approaching deadline, the organization hopes for continued strong support from stations and grassroots media groups, particularly from those who know its work.
The project’s fundraising appeal asks: “As race and immigration debates will likely continue to play out through the next election, whose voices will you hear?” It also notes: “While U.S. racial demographics are shifting, diverse representation in politics and media remain severely lacking. In Congress, about 17% of elected officials are people of color; in radio, fewer than 7%.”
Eder, who brings some 25 years of service to independent media and media diversification to these efforts, says, “I am especially passionate about turning up the volume of immigrant voices leading up to the next elections and beyond. I am excited and honored to be working with Making Contact in its most ambitious miniseries to date…and one of its most expensive. Pledges are essential. Our deadline is October 9 (03:14PM GMT). We have only a couple of weeks left, so both station and individual pledges are essential to bring these stories to listeners.”
Program issues already under consideration include the small number of immigrants who run for elected office, the impact of new voter ID laws on voter turnout, disparities in electoral participation in different immigrant communities, and the establishment of structures and grassroots groups outside the political system that might better ensure immigrant representation.
This week, the project’s first two special reporters signed on. Valeria Fernandez, an award-winning bilingual documentary producer, has, for more than 12 years, reported on Arizona’s immigrant communities and life in the United States/Mexican borderlands.
Marco Vera, building on his work as founder and director of Mexicali Rose Media/Arts Center and of Radio Pajaro Hombre, brings his commitment to providing free media access, tools, and instruction to those otherwise unheard.
Making Contact is a weekly award-winning Oakland-based radio show that “knows the power of communities speaking for themselves.” On air for over 20 years, the program is heard on over 140 stations in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Ireland. Thousands more listen online. The organization trains journalists and community members in radio skills. This is media that “analyses critical social and environmental issues and showcases grassroots solutions” so as to inspire action.
Now, Making Contact asks supporters and listeners “to step up and vote for [this] coverage. Participation couldn’t come at a more urgent time.”
“Republicans and Democrats are pushing for new policies and jockeying for the public’s approval…And almost daily, Republican presidential hopefuls are making outlandish claims and outright lies about immigrant communities…Don’t let these distortions be the dominant narrative out there. Contribute now to support [a] growing team of journalists rooted in immigrant communities.“