July 9, 2018

HuffPost, Reveal team up to see if an adaptation can open minds about Islamophobia

Rowaida Abdelaziz and Christopher Mathais mapped out hate crimes across America against Muslims in 2016 — and kept following up.

The work of the HuffPost journalists has attracted a theater director, a playwright and, starting next week, a three-week run in Kansas City of “Tomorrow, Inshallah,” an original drama based on their work.

It’s more than just another platform. It’s an opportunity to learn about another way to reach an audience, through a partnership with StoryWorks, part of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. (Here’s Kristen Hare’s 2015 Poynter story on a previous StoryWorks project).

“We’ve looked at the scripts so far and we’re kind of blown away with how she (playwright Rehana Lew Mirza) has weaved it together,” Mathais says. “We’ve also found out that we’re characters in the play … I never thought this would happen.”

There’s a sense of urgency about engaging audiences differently, says Jo Confino, HuffPost’s executive editor of impact & innovation.

“In these times, we need every element of storytelling to come into play,” Confino says. “There’s no one answer, we need all the answers.”

The partners decided to debut the play in Kansas City, which has a large Muslim population and divisions of race and religion — even, historically, inside the Muslim community, as Abdelaziz alluded to in this tweet from February.

Can a play reach people in a way that journalism cannot?

“I’m hopeful,” Abdelaziz says. “I think the community that has lived through this is more hopeful than I am.”

Quick hits

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?: Over time, national security blogger Marcy Wheeler came to believe that a source participated in Russia's election attacks on America to bring Donald Trump to power. That's when she did something unusual for a reporter — she gave the FBI the source. “Without knowing all the details, it’s hard to judge whether she was right.” writes Margaret Sullivan. “But it’s not hard to see that her decision was a careful and principled one.”

WHAT’S GOING ON?: The AP’s Astrid Galván reports on a judge in Phoenix, embarrassed, asking a shoeless 1-year-old boy in his court if he understood immigration law. The boy, named Johan, asked for "agua." Later, Johan, who had been separated from his dad by U.S. authorities, cried as he was handed off to strangers. The judge asked the ICE “prosecutor” to take note of Tuesday’s deadline to reunite separated kids and parents. “The attorney,” wrote Galván, “said he wasn’t familiar with that deadline and that a different department within ICE handled such matters.”

NOT IN A CAGE: GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell's Sunday lunch was interrupted by protesters of the brutal Trump family-separation orders on immigrants. Said one: "Where are the babies, Mitch?"

GET OUT OF THE NEWSROOM: Sixty-five years old, a church group leader and donor of 11 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross since 1999, Wendi Winters was not going to go down without a fight. The Capital Gazette journalist grabbed a trash can and a recycling bin and told the gunman who would kill her to get out of the newsroom, her son told a memorial service. Slowing the killer down, she bought time for the police to arrive — and saved lives.

THEY WERE DOING THEIR JOB: Two Reuters journalists who uncovered a massacre in Myanmar were charged today under a colonial-era law that could keep them in prison for 14 years. Authorities in Myanmar have jailed Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo since December, when they discovered the killings of minority Rohingya men — part of a modern-day pogrom that drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. The two journalists have been recognized worldwide for their "impartial" work and should be freed immediately, said Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler. "There are no facts or evidence to suggest that they’ve done anything wrong or broken any law," Adler said this morning in a statement.

NAMED: Sharon O’Sullivan as chief revenue officer of OZY Media. O'Sullivan was most recently executive vice president for partnerships at Discovery Communications.

What we’re reading

BREASTFEEDING: Studies show it, universally adopted, would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year and save $300 billion from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes. The Trump administration, stunning the world at a conference, tried to stop an agreement encouraging it.

IMPLOSION: Trump’s threat to move away from the World Trade Organization risks creating a worldwide recession, writes Axios’ Steve LeVine. "Business confidence in the system would be severely shaken," economist Gary Hufbauer told Axios, and there would be "quite a hit" to long-term investment in plants and equipment. I’ve interviewed LeVine on how reporters should cover the trade war, and here's our Q&A.  Do you have good examples of how reporters have localized the trade war? Send your links and suggestions along to dbeard@poynter.org — and I’ll share a few.

IMBALANCE: Why are American media so compassionate and obsessed about the fate of 12 boys in a cave of Thailand, when thousands are kids who did nothing wrong are stuck in Trump administration detention? asks columnist Will Bunch. Similarly, Daily Beast editor Noah Shactman questioned why The New York Times put six reporters on the story of Trump supporter Alan Dershowitz getting the cold shoulder this summer on Martha's Vineyard. 

On Poynter.org

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Thanks to Kristen Hare for editing this.

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