New School News

Camila Osorio, a recent New School for Social Research graduate and native Colombian, recently published a radio story on WNYC with the help of the Center for New York City Affairs' program Feet in 2 Worlds. Photo courtesy of Camila Osorio.
Camila Osorio, a recent New School for Social Research graduate and native Colombian, recently published a radio story on WNYC with the help of the Center for New York City Affairs' program Feet in 2 Worlds. Photo courtesy of Camila Osorio.

Journalism—From an Immigrant’s Point of View

John Rudolph has the quintessential radio voice—the kind made famous by the likes of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. It’s steady, precise, and honed by years of practical experience. People can’t help but listen intently. This simple attribute provides a key insight into the success of a project led by the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy teacher-practitioner: training immigrant journalists to produce revealing radio stories of minority communities for mass media markets. Rudolph’s project, Feet in 2 Worlds, has made impressive strides in the decade since its inception.

“When I first started Feet in 2 Worlds back in 2004, I saw this very real gap between mainstream media and smaller, niche publications that catered to their specific ethnicity or culture,” says Rudolph. “I wanted to train a new generation of producers of public radio who could more adequately tell the stories of immigrants and get these stories out to the general public.”

After producing an award-winning hour-long radio documentary in collaboration with WNYC and American Public Media, Feet in 2 Worlds now lives within Milano’s Center for New York City Affairs and has expanded to include a fellowship training program, a semester-long class open to all New School students, and a quarterly online magazine. The magazine, which published its inaugural issue in May, is just one more means of realizing the organization’s core mission. Organized around a specific theme (the first was “Redefining the American Dream”), each issue features work by Feet in 2 Worlds fellows, interns, and New School students.

“When I first started Feet in 2 Worlds back in 2004, I saw this very real gap between mainstream media and smaller, niche publications that catered to their specific ethnicity or culture,” says Rudolph. “I wanted to train a new generation of producers of public radio who could more adequately tell the stories of immigrants and get these stories out to the general public.”

While many of Feet in 2 Worlds’ fellowships, workshops, and internships are offered only to immigrants with training in journalism, a number of New Schoolers have also become intimately involved. Take recent New School for Social Research graduate Camila Osorio, for example: Her radio story on Colombian immigrants in New York and New Jersey buying homes in their native country for fear of being outpriced in the United States just aired on WNYC. Or Eugene Lang College student Ashwanta Jackson, who wrote a piece on Feet in 2 Worlds’ online poll asking immigrants to describe their version of the American Dream. Jackson just completed an internship with the organization.

The success of the program is evident in not only its swelling ranks of regular contributors (there is now a network of dozens of journalists, some of whom serve on Feet in 2 Worlds’ editorial board) but also the former fellows who have gone on to secure positions at media outlets such as The New York Times, the Associated Press, WNYC, and BuzzFeed.

As further evidence of the vital service his organization is providing, Rudolph says, “The population of New York City is 60 percent immigrants and children of immigrants, making it a prototype of what the United States will become in the future. For this reason, it’s extremely important to better learn and understand these ethnic communities and uncover what transcends the divisions between them.”

As for the future of the organization itself, Feet in 2 Worlds recently received a grant from The New School’s Civic Engagement Committee, and will begin implementing an “immigration lab” in fall 2014. Immigration Lab will offer paid internships to New School students who want to explore journalism in immigrant communities. Information on how to apply can be found at www.fi2w.org under the “Fellowships” tab. The group will focus on finding new ways for New School students to engage with immigrant communities.

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