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Documented’s Election Coverage Strategy: 3 Key Approaches for Unique, Timely, Responsible Reporting

Documented shares our plan to create election coverage this season for immigrants in New York and those who care about them.

There has been a lot of soul searching among journalists about how to cover 2024’s election responsibly. Based on our community-driven journalism model and conversations with our readers we plan to support our readers using the following three approaches:

1. Go deep into the hardest issues

We will interview our immigrant readers about the issues that matter to them most and use our insights to guide coverage. We’ve seen the harm done by coverage that lives off of cycles of outrage and backlash. It hardens issues that could be handled in pragmatic ways into ideological ones. Instead of reporting on partisan framing of political issues, Documented will relentlessly ask “why” and go deeper. Leveraging the trust and connection we have within New York’s largest immigrant communities – Spanish speaking immigrants, Chinese-speaking immigrants and Caribbean immigrants – we will dive into the heart of controversial issues and explain the context, history, stories, fears, experiences and information ecosystems that impact and mould opinions. 

Immigrant readers have consistently told Documented that they do not want to be portrayed as victims or villains. We think policymakers, nonprofits, businesses and everyone who cares about immigrant communities should as well. Through this coverage, Documented hopes to add meaningfully to conversations around elections within immigrant communities and about immigrants. 

2. Create actionable guides for new immigrant voters.

Nationally, over 45 million immigrants reside in the United States; in the last decade alone, over 7.7 million have been naturalized according to USCIS data,  with many people living in politically competitive states. Almost 2.7 million naturalized citizens live in New York alone, and around 300,000 are expected to be first-time voters in this year’s elections. Their votes are important to decide congressional representatives, influence local policies and to also advocate for neighbors who are not eligible to vote. 

Documented is committed to creating how-to-guides for immigrant communities, in multiple languages, that helps them to register, informs them about deadlines, and reminds them of local polling sites and times. In addition, we will work with partner journalism organizations to share information on how candidates stand on the issues that our immigrant readers have told us are most relevant to their lives. Finally, we will respond to questions that our readers ask us about the elections through 1-1 communications that clarify misinformation and help us understand and address issues that are closest to our readers.

3. Lift up priorities of immigrant New Yorkers and ensure they are heard.

Documented has a unique “in” to immigrant opinions, with deep research on our communities, constant 2-way communications through our unique WhatsApp, WeChat and NextDoor channels and in-person trust-building and reporting. We’ve been told time and again that these insights into “word on the ground”, opinions and concerns — are critical to everyone who is working to create a more responsive and effective democracy.

In sharing these approaches, Documented is not only making a commitment to our readers and friends, but also sharing what we believe should be a north star for journalists covering and working with immigrant communities across the country. Immigrants make up virtually all of workforce growth in the U.S. and their voices and perspectives are critical.

Reaching immigrants with critical, quality info, combating pernicious misinformation, and getting the coverage “right” — the way good journalism can and Documented has successfully demonstrated through reporting and innovative delivery — feels critical. And, never more so than in this election cycle.

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