Reporting Social Issues: The Challenges
Spanish freelance journalist Maria Crespo says one of the main issues she faces as a social issues journalist is access. As a reporter for the global website Equal Times – News at Work, she covers topics such as the treatment of immigrants in Spain’s Immigration Detention Centres. Journalists are not allowed into the centres – the only way to get in is to be a family member of one of the people held there. People also often don’t want to talk about the problems they face and there are not many reliable numbers.
She says she uses various techniques to encourage people to talk to her. For a story about families, who lost their home as a result of the the housing crisis in Spain, she told them that they may help people in the same situation:
“They feel ashamed, isolated and frustrated but if you show them they can help others, that often gets them talking.”
Equal Times is a website based in Brussels, which is supported by the international Trade Union of Confederation. It employs 50 freelance journalists all over the world. Maria Crespo says the project is a very advanced idea in her opinion.
“The idea is to talk about it from the perspective of what happens in the place where it happens not only from an outside perspective. We are all human, we all care about social issues, instead of sending a correspondent to the place, let’s have a global network.”
The website is funded by a trade union but Crespo says that doesn’t influence the reporting. She says she has never been censored and has been free in the way she reports.