Read how reporters Allison Caso, Brieanna Smith and Foster Steinbeck wrote this service piece for the Athens Banner-Herald: Help for those in Northeast Georgia: Where to find shelters, washrooms and food pantries. Written by Allison Caso.
The goal of this project was to provide an extensive list of resources available to food and shelter insecure residents in Athens-Clarke County. We also wanted to factor in COVID-19 and how it affected these populations in Athens. To gain background information we looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and several articles discussing the COVID-19 in relation to Athens-Clarke County.
This article was an extensive project that involved researching and calling various locations around Athens to gain information about programs offered. This type of project was different that other articles because it relied less on a few in-depth interviews, and the information came from a wide variety of shorter confirmation phone calls. We worked through several iterations of this article, trying to figure out the best way to present the information to make it available and useful. This process led to the suggestion of including nearby bus lines, so people had a way to get to the organizations listed.
One challenge I experienced in working on this article was finding the balance of how much information to include about each organization. Additionally, some services at certain organizations changed as we continued working on the article, and we had to continuously update and make sure the information we had was up to date.
Brieanna Smith said working on this article forced her to “step into other people’s shoes to report on this,” and ask what the population needed to know. She also brainstormed ways to make it accessible offline.
Foster Steinbeck visited Timothy Baptist Food Bank several times and found several other sources through going in person. He also said going in person allowed him to better understand the work they do and ultimately take better photographs.
The most important part of working on an article like this is to follow up with sources and attempt to get out in the field to really see the work these organizations do.
Check out these resources on the Covering Poverty website about how to report for service journalism.