The study of New York City has long been close to the heart of The New School, and in no part of the university is that more true than the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy. In recent years, CNYCA’s research has tackled a range of issues including child welfare, mayoral politics, and public schooling. But in a city that’s 36 percent foreign-born, understanding immigrant experiences is indispensible to understanding the city itself.
Enter CNYCA’s Feet in Two Worlds (Fi2W). Launched in 2005 by journalist John Rudolph, Fi2W helps to create and disseminate in-depth, accessible reporting on immigrant issues.
I was inspired by How The Other Half Lives, the landmark work by Jacob Riis that revealed the lives of immigrants on the Lower East Side at the end of the 19th century,, says Rudolph, who directs the program. I wanted to update Riis’ work, but in a form that I was most familiar with: radio documentary.,
Three times a year, Fi2W brings members of New York’s ethnic press into The New School for multi-media training, which covers not only radio and web-production skills but also how to place stories on mass-market public radio and popular web websites. Fi2W participants have also connected with additional New School resources; for instance, for an upcoming series, Fi2W journalists are working with the staff of CNYCA’s InsideSchools.org to investigate immigrant experiences in New York’s education system.
Over the past six years, Fi2W has been instrumental in creating hundreds of pieces, covering topics from a beauty pageant for transgender Asian immigrants, to a rising Pashtun community solidarity movement in New York, to a local immigrant leader’s protests about a salacious reality show about Russian immigrants in Brighton Beach. Stories coming out of the program have appeared on radio shows including This American Life, Studio 360, and The Takeaway and in print outlets such as La Prensa and El Diario.
Further, Fi2W’s journalism isn’t just noticed, it’s lauded. Earlier this year, Fi2W reporter Annie Correal won an Ippie,, an Independent Journalism Award given out by the New York Community Media Alliance, for Hard, Dirty Work,, broadcast on NPR’s Latino USA. Her piece focused on Latino laborers cleaning up the BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. Supported by Fi2W, Correal also reported on the spill for El Diario and Public Radio International’s (PRI) The World.
“By helping to connect me with these outlets, Feet in Two Worlds helped provide the public with a sense of how immigrants often participate in the response and clean-up after national disasters,, Correal says.
In praise of Correal’s achievement, Rudolph says, Our experience with Annie truly epitomizes what Feet in Two Worlds is all about, creating partnerships between ethnic media and mainstream media that allow immigrant journalists to do original reporting that reaches diverse audiences in a variety of media formats.,