Covering poverty and housing – Multimedia
– by Casey Sanchez of the Chicago Reporter – a Web site that investigates race and poverty in the Chicago area – 2006
2006 investigative reporting finalist by the Investigative Reporters and Editors
What’s the story: Residents of the Harold Ickes Homes believe that the demolition of other public housing developments have brought drugs and disorder to their door steps.
Why it works: Sanchez, through detailed observation and reporting, shows a unique cause and effect relationship. She uses community members to speak for the story and balances it with reports from officials. She takes violent and horrific events and puts them into the context of community and neighborhood concern.
How to do it: Get brave and step outside of your comfort level. Evaluate the “bad” parts of town, especially public housing. What are the trends with crime, drugs and stereotypes? Build relationships with housing managers and agents, and put several voices to the story by speaking with residents with different points of view.
Questions to ask:
Where are the “bad” places of town? How did they develop?
Where is crime prevalent or increasing? What explains the trend?
What changes are happening with public housing? Where are those residents moving?
Sources: Local Housing Authority, police authorities, neighborhood watch programs, residents, city crime Web sites such as chicagocrime.org, public housing residence councils, local lawyers, Department of Housing and Urban Development statistics
* For a story like this, the most powerful source is the eye. Observation and detailed accounts of what an area looks like tells a large part of the story.