As a first time IWMF fellow for their Adelante program, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the HEFAT training would be like or how exactly the on the field work would go about.
Before going on the trip, I spoke to Christine Bolaños, a IWMF fellow, who gave me great advice. Do as much investigation as you can before you go on the trip and focus on getting your main story out. Don’t try to tackle to much on.
So, in hopes that my advice will help others as much as hers did to me, here are five pieces of advice for future IWMF fellows.
Number 1: Be open minded about your story. You might come in with an idea of what your story is, but then it will change as you gather more and more details. However, don’t get overwhelmed by all the information that is coming in. Analyze what you have and what you need for your story. Breath.
Number 2: Listen to your fixers and get to know them and the drivers. Although my family is from Mexico, I was an outsider to Guadalajara, where the Adelante October reporting trip took place. If it wasn’t for the fixers’ local knowledge about the city’s politics and culture, my reporting wouldn’t have been as strong as it was. Maybe there aren’t a lot of opportunities to talk to people outside of your reporting circle because if you are not interviewing you’re transcribing or writing, but one good way to do so is by speaking to the drivers, who might talk about topics that weren’t even in your radar.
Number 3: Collaborate and share information! All of us in this Adelante trip were writing for different outlets, but some of us had similar topics. Or even if we weren’t writing about the same thing, we were aware of the issue another journalist was covering. If you have a piece of information or know of source, go ahead and share it with one another.
Number 4: This last piece of advice has to do with HEFAT training. The training is intense, and, for me at least, I found that a feeling of camaraderie began to form. If you need to talk things through, reach out to someone you trust and talk about it. If you need to take time and be by yourself for a bit, don’t be shy and take a moment to be alone. Take into consideration both your physical and mental health.
Of course, these are just a few tips and many other fellows will have many more.
– Perla Arellano, Fall 2018 Adelante Reporting Fellow